Jan Jelinek * Alva Noto

Social Engineering


“Permit me to inform you of my desire of going into business relationship with you.”

A great idea always raises the question ‘Why didn’t anyone think of this before’?
Everyone with an online existence has experienced the nauseating phenomenon of phishing mails, but it requires some kind of genius to turn it into art. Enter Jan Jelinek, who did exactly this.

On Social Engineering, he used thirteen text fragments from phishing emails and transformed them using speech synthesis tools into spoken or sung texts. For this, he used the kind of speech synthesis that is easily distinguished as such, not the recent AI tools that can hardly be distinguished from natural speech. After all, any alert person could distinguish a phishing mail from a real person’s mail in a similarway.

The texts are then extensively manipulated and ‘transformed into abstract textures’, and that is the moment this idea becomes true sound art. It is fascinating in such a way that you might actually welcome the next phishing mail you receive, imagining in your mind ‘what would Jan Jelinek would have made from this?’

The tracks on Social Engineering (which are perfectly mastered by Rashad Becker by the way), were originally conceived as a radio hörspiel for the Sudwestrundfunk/ARD but it definitely deserves a wider listen. The vinyl version contains all of the ‘lyrics’ printed but I guess the tracks are pretty self-explanatory in itself. Stay aware!



The music of Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai) often comes in series, such as the acclaimed series Xerrox I-IV (which, judging by the cover layout, still waits for edition V). The HYbr:ID series has now reached its third chapter, after I (2021) and II (2023). And like its predecessors, it has an unmatched sophisticated sound design – only a few can create electronic sounds like Alva Noto can.

The ‘soundscape of meditative and resonant tones’ Alva Noto creates draws its inspiration from ‘Noh, a traditional Japanese musical drama dating back to the 14th century. The album reflects the genre’s distinctive rhythmic movements and its nuanced expression of emotions through subtle gestures.’
I’m not familiar with Noh to say anything about this, but I can hear what Nicolai means when he says that he wants the tracks ‘to possess a sculptural quality’.

“The HYbr:ID series is Carsten Nicolai’s ongoing research into heterogeneous compositional methods that converge in music fusing geometries, dystopias, and scientific references. The sounds oscillate between stylized, dilated rhythms and dreamy atmospheres generated by high and low frequencies.”

The thirteen compositions on this album were also commissioned to score Richard Siegals Ballet of (Dis)Obedience. When you are in Rome before August 2025 this year, visit the #Chamber Music at the Macro Museum to experience the music of HYbr:ID in an exhibition setting.

But I strongly recommend enjoying this on a decent and capable sound system at home.


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