by K.M. Whitehouse
 
Jonathan Edward Stephen Jeczalik was born in Oxfordshire on the 11th May 1955 to an English mother and Polish father. JJ began his musical career when he came to London during year off after studying for a Geography Degree at Durham University, before going onto do a Master’s Degree in Birmingham. He promoted a gig for a pub group called Landscape (who would later go onto have a hit with Einstein A Go-Go). JJ then roadied for their drummer Richard Burgess before he met the Buggles: Trevor Horn & Geoff Downes. He started to work for Downes, programming his Fairlight, (the ninth one ever made) as Downes had problems programming the machine, before JJ became a freelance programmer. When Horn & Downes joined Yes, JJ went on tour with them for three months in the United States of America. After they both left Yes, JJ went to work for Horn programming his Fairlight and became part of Horn’s production team. He found himself working alongside future Art of Noise members, engineer/producer Gary Langan and arranger Anne Dudley. The team worked on classic hits for Dollar, before working on ABC’s Lexicon Of Love and Malcolm McLaren’s Duck Rock album.
 
Throughout his time programming the Fairlight, JJ developed his own unique way of sampling sounds, by turning them into very different ones by distorting them so much they were unrecognisable from the original sound. The programmer's techniques would change the way that records were made, after a bored Langan asked him to help out with an idea that had one Friday night. JJ sampled a discarded drumbeat from a recording session of the Yes album 90125. The result of this idea became the Art of Noise. That project went from being a two-man project to a five-man project with the addition of Horn, Dudley and Paul Morley, a man that he did not see eye to eye with, apart from a mutual love of cricket. That project led to JJ becoming the country’s most sort after Fairlight programmer. His pioneering methods of sampling, with a disregard for studio and musical rules, set him apart from others in the music industry. He inspired others to be creative with sampling technology and the Art of Noise was the perfect vehicle to showcase what could be done. The programmer always used the technology as a tool and didn’t sample other people's music so that he could have the sound of that artist on his productions, he would take a small sample, then manipulate the sound into something completely different unlike a lot of people who have followed in his footsteps since.
 
Outside the Art of Noise JJ was heavily involved with the programming and production work for Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Although Frankie Goes To Hollywood were produced by Horn, it was J.J’s sounds that stood out on their first album Welcome To The Pleasure Dome, giving the group an edge over the likes of Duran Duran and Wham! In addition to his work with Frankie Goes To Hollywood, JJ was responsible for programming the Fairlight and remixing for the likes of Endgames, The Hostages, Andrew Poppy, Scritti Polliti, John Parr, Paul McCartney, Billy Ocean, Kate Bush, Visage, Eatha Kitt, Jean Paul Gaultier, Godley & Creme. He even found time to produce for Stephen “Tintin” Duffy, Pet Shop Boys, Nick Kamen and Shakin’ Stevens to name but a few. In 1987 he set up his own publishing company, JJJ Music. He told Music Technology magazine’s readers that he was looking for new regular music with good structure and that they could send him their demos that weren’t overdone, then he could take care of the production side. In the same issue of the magazine he mentioned that he was working on demos for a solo album, but that project never saw the light of day.

After the Art of Noise had ended, JJcontinued to work on various other projects, one such project was an Italian album that was put out in 1992 called Columbus by the Biographers. It was a concept album that told the story of the Columbus with a narrative. It was written by Lanfranco Perini & Leonardo Alessandroni with the former Art of Noise co-founder producing and arranging along with programming/playing Fairlights, S4000, Atari & notation in addition to providing the voice of The Unknown Helmsman in the story. The music was a mixture of operatic, orchestral and dance music featuring some sounds from the Art of Noise and Malcolm McLaren's Duck Rock. Also involved in the making of the album were some of his friends including Nick Froome who co-produced Stephen "Tintin" Duffy's Kiss Me and Pet Shop Boys Opportunites (Let's Make Lots Of Money) with JJ along with Blue Weaver who would also go onto work on the Art of Silence album a few years later. Some of the recordings were made at his own Monsterrat Studios in Berkshire. In March 1993 the producer/programmer released a CD of samples entitled JJ Jeczalik’s Art Of Sampling that cost £50 (0 USD) when it was released in early 1993 and featured some of samples from the Art of Noise as well as numerous others. The CD was aimed at professional musicians and people involved in the music industry hence the high price. Once purchasing the CD, one also owned the right to use any of the samples in any production that the purchaser was creating. That project came about  in 1992 after JJ rang Matthew Wilkinson, the head of the Advanced Media Group, to place an order for some sample CDs. Wilkinson suggested to JJ that it would be a good idea if he released one. JJ agreed, raided his Fairlight archives and transfered the samples onto a DAT before they were mastered onto CD. The CD remains one of AMG's best selling sample CDs.
 
Two years later in 1995, he launched Art of Silence on his own Axiomattic label with two limited edition 12”s, West 4 and The Giant Remixes that were recorded at Monsterrat Studios. In many ways Art of Silence was his follow-up to the Art of Noise and gave the listener an idea of what the Art of Noise may have sounded like if they had continued to evolve. The name Art of Silence may or may not have come from an interview in the 16th August 1986 edition of Sounds, after the interviewer said: “People are bound to say The Art Of Noise haven’t been up to scratch since parting with ZTT, just because of the kudos associated with the label. Although that’s taken a bit of a denting of late.” JJ: “Well, there hasn’t been anything. There’ve been statements like ‘Noiseless ZTT.’.” Anne: “And ‘The Art Of Silence’. We liked that, actually.”
 
In 1996 JJ released more versions of West 4 along with an album entitled artofsilence.co.uk and his own Art of Silence website www.artofsilence.co.uk. In the 1980’s he modestly called himself a “non-musician” who was just “mucking about” before calling himself “a man of some musical experience” when he was interviewed in Sound On Sound in 1992. On artofsilence.co.uk JJ is credited as playing keyboards throughout the entire album as well as mixing & synth programming. The sound of the album was a departure from the Art of Noise as it was mainly synth based and not based around samples. Co-producing the album was Bob Kraushaar who had worked with JJ over the years, most notably filling in as an engineer on the Art of Noise album “In No Sense? Nonsense!”. Kraushaar wasn’t the only person from the Art of Noise's past who was involved with the album as if featured Linda Taylor on vocals, Dave Bronze on bass and Paul Robinson on drums, all of whom had toured with the Art of Noise a decade earlier. The album was dance oriented mixing ambient sounds along the way. The single West 4 was the opening track, complete with synth strings and piano with an uplifting beat. The entire album was a trance-like soundscape subtly containing sea, rain, birds, guitar sounds, catchy bassline rhythms and like the Art of Noise contained lyrical motifs. Giant Below, Giant Above, Giant Within – a trilogy of tracks were at the centre of the album with the Crusoe-like Messenger Of Heaven were all highlights of the album. artofsilence.co.uk was released as a limited edition CD with a diskette entitled Sound Effects, that could only be played on a Mac computer, a standard CD and a double vinyl LP. Art of Silence wasn’t his only activity  as he had also set up Touch Music Interactive, an interactive production company and label with video director Will Oakley. JJ had started work on a second Art of Silence album and in 1997 released a 12” entitled Teach Me. The track was a departure from anything that had appeared on artofsilence.co.uk as it was a more aggressive sounding dance track with vocals and lyrics, this was the final Art of Silence release, the second album never surfaced. However Axiomattic released a double A-sided 12” called Into The Sun/Out Of The Fire by Lock which was produced by JJ & Kraushaar, this was the final release for the label.
 
JJ retired from the music business and is now the Head of ICT at a school in Oxford after trading on the Stock Exchange as the Art of Trading. According to an updated AMG review for his CD JJ Jeczalik’s Art Of Sampling the reviewer said “The last time I spoke to him he was talking about retiring from music because he felt he was getting too old for it now and had already 'bought the t-shirt' so to speak.” JJ and Langan didn’t take part when Dudley, Horn and Morley reformed the Art of Noise. He did come out of retirement on one occasion and contributed a new version of Beat Box under the Art of Silence name for the Art of Noise tribute album The Abduction Of The Art Of Noise. He also took part in an interview for the Art of Noise boxset And What Have You Done With My Body, God?.
 
Ironically for a man who never considered himself a musician, he has left a musical legacy by leading the field in sampling and turning music on its head. Over the years he has had a fanbase of Art of Noise and Art of Silence fans, in addition to that there is a  "just for fun" Facebook fanclub has been created by pupils at the school where he teaches (see links page).
 
Although JJ has been A.W.O.L. from the music industry for over a decade, his fans still hope that one day he will re-form Art of Noise or Art of Silence, just to show some of today's record makers how sampling should be done.
 
© Copyright K.M. Whitehouse 2008-2009

 

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