Walt Miller, Splendid E-Zine, October 24, 2003

No newbie to the music scene, Czech artist Tomas Jirku has released tons of music on labels like Force Inc, Alien8 and Klang Elektronik, but his beginnings are rooted in mp3 labels like No Type. Bleak 1999 represents Jirku’s return to his origins, in which he brings moody structure back to the esteemed No Type roster.

If you know Jirku’s work, you’ll immediately be struck by the differences between this album and, say, his contribution to Clicks & Cuts 2. Still frolicking within the mechanical depths of techno austerity, Jirku has moved on from the Vladislav Delayesque glitch-techno of releases like Immaterial. For one thing, Bleak 1999 eschews much of the traditional overt processing, favoring a more unaffected strain of murky melody and plodding, switch-hitting rhythms that are sped down from what’s known on the dancefloor. Tracks such as Psychosis and Input fluid push a sober, cinemascopic agenda, reinforcing the album’s general overcast quality with dark strings and an intermittent thump of boom-bip kick drums and sci-fi synthesis. Cefuroxime, one of the album’s strongest cuts, injects ear-pleasing pin-prick percussion while adding a complementary nuanced shuffle. On 04.1.93, Jirku switches to more pronounced beat work and energetic melody that recalls Mike Paradinas via Berlin; Tranylcypromine finds itself in the realms of Amber-era Autechre, subtle percussion and sumptuous tonality moving fluidly over electro underpinnings.

As an album, Bleak 1999 is cut together like a performance: all the tracks run together, with occasional breaks for radio frequency ambience. Strong themes emerge, and it’s interesting to hear their development in such a repetitious environment. Whereas in minimal techno you notice subtle changes of syncopated clicks and sputter, Bleak 1999’s synths fill in the gaps and soften the edge with slow, dramatic strokes. Whether you like Bleak 1999 or not is a matter of taste; it’s a curious noise that falls somewhere between the realms early Warp, Industrial Strength artists like Disintegrator and the isolationist end of industrial music. It’s bold, groundbreaking stuff. Lull fans searching for a groove would be wise to try some.

It’s bold, groundbreaking stuff.