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(Credit: Ars Electronica)

Music

Experimental composer and artist Philip Jeck dies aged 69

@SamWKemp

British turntablist, multimedia artist and experimental composer, Philip Jeck, has sadly passed away. Jon Wozencroft and Mike Harding of the independent publishing company Touch broke the news in a statement on Jeck’s website, in which they announced that the 69-year-old died peacefully in his sleep on Friday (25th March) after a period of illness.

Remembering Jeck, Touch wrote: “A remarkable man and a wonderful artist, he has been one of the kingpins of our work for 30 years. But with Philip, it was never just the work, more the love, the spirit and the dedication. He touched so many with his wit, his zest for life and his wisdom. We will miss him terribly and our love goes out to Mary and Louis.”

After developing an interest in visual art, Philip Jeck studied at Dartington College Art, where he began blending his passion for media, music and theatre. Speaking in 2017, Jeck explained how his visual art roots informed his synaesthetic approach to music-making: “When I make stuff, it’s there,” he began. “It’s not a simple as saying ‘I’m doing a collage,’ but there’s elements of that,” he said. “I think of stuff as colour, the sounds I use. So I sort of paint with it, in some connection with painting and the sound.”

In the 1980s, Jeck began experimenting with turntables, using them not merely as playback devices but as compositional tools in themselves. During this time, he also continued to work as a visual artist, exhibiting his installations internationally.

He also composed for opera, theatre, and ballet performances. One of his most notable works is 1993’s Vinyl Requiem, which he composed for 180 turntables, nine slide projectors, and two 16mm film projectors. The piece won Jeck a Time Out Performance Award, while Vinyl Coda I-III earned him the coveted Karl Sczuka Foderpreis for Radio Art.

Jeck released no less than 12 solo albums, many of which saw him collaborate with other musicians, including Jah Wobble, Fennesz, Alter Ego, Can’s Jaki Liebezeit, and Faith Coloccia.