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Of contemporary musicians, only Thomas Brinkmann and Vladislav Delay straddle the worlds of dance and art quite as comfortably as Jan Jelinek. Hence La Nouvelle Pauvreté
comes loaded with layers of intellectual significance: the title is derived from a Belgian anti-fashion movement, and is intended in this case to be a critique of the dance scene's current poverty of ideas.
Jelinek's preoccupation with theory has been sighted before, of course. Last year's superb Textstar compilation, released under his Farben alias, sought to import the signifiers and resonance of classic soul to micro-house. But his great gift is to never let the concepts overwhelm the music. La Nouvelle Pauvreté features nine tracks of grainy, fanatically-detailed techno, punctuated by air-dried samples of pianos and mournful string sections. Jelinek is obviously aligned with the burgeoning "clicks+cuts" movement, though he's much more graceful and humane than most practitioners of that clever, if soulless, music. This time, he's toying with rather rockist notions of presentation, singing a little and pretending very half-heartedly--he has a band, The Exposures. Beguiling games, for sure, and ones you can easily opt out of without ruining the pleasures of this engrossing album. --John Mulvey