Friday, January 27, 2017

Matt Jencik - Weird Times LP (Hands In the Dark)

Matt Jencik's debut full length Weird Times is out via Hands In The Dark on February 3. To celebrate we interviewed Implodes guitarist-singer, Reckless Records buyer, and pal about his new record

All tracks composed, performed & recorded by Matt Jencik 
Artwork by Chris Hefner 
Mastering by Jason Ward

Matt Jencik - Weird Times 
Cat #: HITD 032
LP Limited to 300 copies + download  


Matt Jencik is a musician based in Chicago. His most recent band, Implodes, released two albums with the label Kranky earlier this decade and Jencik has been performing and recording since the early nineties in bands such as Hurl, Don Caballero, and more recently Slint, PAPA M and Circuit Des Yeux.  'Weird Times' is Matt Jencik’s debut solo album, in which he presents ten pure ambient, abstract drone tracks. ... It is an immense pleasure to be able to showcase such a great modern album, which is both dark and dreamy, showing an impressive maturity and formidable talent. - HITD

How did your relationship with Hands In The Dark​ start​/result in releasing Weird Times​?

Antoine of Hands in the Dark was the tour manager for the 2012 PAPA M tour that I was on. Antoine would play HITD releases in the van. I specifically remember listening to the Death & Vanilla record they put out a few times and really liking it. Once I got back to the States, I started ordering their records for Reckless. That tour was a total blast and Antoine and I have remained friends ever since. I sent them these recordings and they were very supportive right away.

When did you begin work on the album?

I was the bass player on a U.S. tour for Circuit Des Yeux in 2014. Rob Frye (also of Cave & Bitchin’ Bajas) was on the tour and he brought a Casio SK-1 sampling keyboard with him to play around with in the van. He had this game he liked playing called “cut-ups” where you would sample something from an iPod and try to make a song out of it. When you’re sampling from the iPod with the SK-1, there’s no way to actually hear what you’re sampling because you’re using the headphone jack to connect to the sampler.. It adds an element of chance to the process because you won't know what you’re sample will be until you play it on the keyboard. I’ve owned Casio samplers for years so when I got back home from tour I continued to play around with it. 

I thought it might be cool to take Rob’s "cut-ups" idea but take the samples from my own recordings.The opening track on the album “Relaxers” was maybe the fifth song I wrote using this method and it was the first song that I made using the process that made me feel like I was onto something. That’s why I put it first on the album. It was truly the beginning. I should point out that there’s a song on the record called “Cut-Up” named after Rob’s process.

How does WT differ from your previous solo work?

I haven’t released too much as a solo artist before Weird Times. I did make another solo album that was more guitar oriented but I couldn’t find a label that wanted to release it. I released part of that album for free on Bandcamp at the end of 2016 as an EP called Butch/Plink. I’d still like to try and release the whole album someday. I did work with some samples on Butch/Plink but this is the first album I’ve made entirely with samples or on a synth. Because the samples are taken from recordings of me playing guitar or playing synth, I do think it has tonal similarities to the Implodes records, especially because I took a lot of the samples from unused Implodes riffs.

Who did the artwork?

The cover was drawn by the very talented Chicago artist Chris Hefner. I’ve been a fan of Chris’ work for a few years and he was very supportive of Implodes. I knew one day I’d probably ask him to design a cover for something and this project just seemed perfect for his style. I didn’t give much guidance really, I just asked him to listen to the record and draw something that he thought matched the vibe of the music. The drawing on the cover is the first drawing he gave me. I love it.

How would you describe the music?

The music is definitely pretty dark and somewhat “woozy” sounding at times. I was listening to a lot of soundtrack music and I think some of the tracks were definitely attempts at making songs that would work in films. You’ll probably notice that for a drone album, the songs are actually pretty short. I purposely kept the songs short. The 3 minute mark was a cut-off point I used often. Most drone albums are built around lengthy, sometimes side-long tracks. I thought it would be cool to go the other way and make short vignettes, sort of like pop-song length drone tracks.

What non-musical influences did you have making this record?

I was reading a lot of horror, specifically writers in the “cosmic horror” genre. Specifically, “The Great Old One," H.P. Lovecraft, and Lovecraft devotees like Laird Barron and Ramsey Campbell. I would say the stories certainly influenced the dreary, morose vibe of some of the songs and a few titles (including the obvious one “Cosmic Horror”) are influenced by that stuff.  

What equipment/instruments did you use?

I made the album with a Casio SK-5 and my laptop. There’s a heapin’ helping of reverb and other effects on the songs for sure.

As the song may suggest, do you have a doppelganger?

Some people have definitely mistaken other bespeckled long-hairs for me before.

When and where can we find the record?

The record is out now. Reckless in Chicago has them, fine online stores like Boomkat, Norman Records and the label’s site also have them.

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