Jorge Velez (Monographic)

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Any musical field needs artists who make a difference from the beginning and who establish some basic rules for a genre, this happens rarely, or almost better said what had to happen has already happened, because creating a style from scratch today is a practically impossible task, at least in electronic music, which in the beginning could be inspired by African American genres such as jazz or soul, but now any new style is an adaptation or a combination of elements of different genres.

All those pioneers who created non-existent trends have left us a great legacy, but they would be nothing if all these genres had not evolved, and we owe that evolution to the new talents that have emerged and have developed any style mixing ingredients and incorporating new ones. That’s why not all influential artists have a long career, the electronic scene needs new blood and both precursors and contemporary artists are equally important to maintain a lively, healthy and active music scene.

When we think of the United States we always divide 3 scenes, Detroit with techno and electro, Chicago with house and New York with hip hop, primitive scenes that ended up being reinforced with other trends such as rave culture imported from Europe, but more recently what we begin to find in the United States are much broader influences. A good example is the American Jorge Velez, this artist began to create music in 1996 and as a good American takes into account the origins of Detroit and Chicago but also bases his style with the classics of synthesized European and Japanese music.

Jorge Velez’s beginnings have not been registered and the first thing he begins to publish more extensively is in 2007 as Professor Genius, one of the many pseudonyms he has used throughout his career. The first releases he publishes under this alias have a marked Italian character, a mixture between record and italo-disco, in fact, in 2007 he publishes a single called La Grotta on the Italian label Italianos Do It Better.

Jorge Velez would create with Professor Genius an identity that would first be enriched from the italo-disc and later would begin to add elements from other cultures, all this would not go unnoticed for a great platform like LIES Records, owned by Ron Morelli. With this record company he publishes Hassan, a conceptual album that is recreated as a soundtrack for an imaginary film based on the Order of the Assassins, a dark cult of the Middle East formed in the 11th century. After orienting the work towards a cinematographic space, the New Jersey-based artist decided to increase the conceptual bets: he was going to be an Italian soundtrack producer who worked on the score for the film in the early 1980s; similar to Brian Eno’s strategies, but with a more entertaining environment. Velez mainly limited himself to using analog equipment that was easily accessible 30 years ago, drew a plot of por – films in his mind and with this plot he began to work. As such, Hassan becomes a perspective of drama and intrigue.

Under the administration of Hassani Sabbah, the assassins operated in Persia and Syria around the time of the Middle Ages and became known to end the lives of hostile political, military and religious leaders. Months would pass, sometimes years, and that feeling is hidden through the album’s original eight tracks, with subtle Arab motifs, synthesizer patterns and a hoarse percussion.

Jorge Velez would publish Hassan as Professor Genius in 2012, album with 8 original tracks and 3 versions of Steve Moore, Marcos Cabral and Steve Summers.

Jorge Velez has been involved in several projects, one of which was Bridge & Tunnel Kids, a solo project supported by Will Burnett with a remix of Omnii.

Bridge & Tunnel Kids is not a project that maintained a continuity, the only version originally published was Omni that came out in 2013, then some songs that appear in this reference have been reused or have been remixed for other issues of Echovolt Records, Greek label where he signed this EP and with which he had previously worked with PG&S, a project he shared with Will Burnett.

Omnii has 3 original tracks and a version signed by Burnett as Willie Burnett. Electro rough and with few ornaments, but with a very karfwerkian melodic sensitivity.

Jorge Velez has used several pseudonyms and with each of them he has taken a very different path in terms of musical style, but already in 2012 he chooses to sign with his own name each work and to this day still maintains the same dynamic. In addition, Jorge Velez has revalued much more than the other aliases and in the eyes of the public is how he is best known.

The first work published by the American with his first name is a series of releases called MMT Tape Series, releases that are first divided into 4 singles and then compiled with an album. The Dutch label Rush Hour Recordings is in charge of publishing one of the most peculiar reissues of recent times, these works created by Velez between 1996 and 1999 had a great repercussion and the copies disappeared in a very short time, this fact relaunched the interest for a nostalgic public that compared this work with that of other eminent AphexTwin.

Just as Jorge Vélez created an entire historical framework with Hassan, with the first album he released as Jorge Vélez, clearly omitting the MMT Tape Series, he uses a similar formula to describe landscapes in this case. Territories describes places that are only in the author’s mind, Velez talks about the power of landscape. 

Jorge Velez released Territories in 2014, after the compilation of songs from the 90’s is the first album he signs with his first name, and as he does in 2012 with Professor Genius he signs again for the label of Ron Morelli.

LIES Records boosts the popularity of Jorge Velez with the albums he publishes as Jorge Velez and Professor Genius, this gives confidence to the American to venture into other projects such as the creation of an own record label. This dynamic so positive with very authentic work and publications with major labels such as Long Island and the great Dutch platform Rush hour Recordings increase the good dynamic and confidence of Velez to bet on an own record label.

Jorge Velez started Templo in 2008 as a 7″ only label and released one 7″ before restarting it on Bandcamp as a digital label. His most recent release “Roman Birds” received a 7.9 rating on Pitchfork and has been a huge success for a digital release. He only signs his own works such as Corner Stories.

If there is one thing we can highlight about Jorge Velez, it is the diversity and mastery to create works with very different registers, from abstract to environmental pieces, or as in the early stage with Professor Genius, disco and italo-disco. Velez is an artist of resources and although he doesn’t have an extensive catalogue as many artists do, everything he publishes tea surprises because he never remembers anything he has created before. This versatility is what has led him to sign for two major record companies such as Rush Hour Recordings and LIES Records.

With LIES Records he first publishes an album as Profesor Genius, then he repeats with the long duration format as Jorge Velez, and in 2016 he signs a single called Animal Disk. His work with LIES Records can be valued in two ways; the first is that Ron Morelli’s label always bets on different sounds, unconventional styles, and Jorge Velez with this aspect fits perfectly with the label.  The second reason that can be assessed from Velez’s work with LIES Records is that this label usually bets enough for local artists, artists from New York.

The Parisian label Scum Yr Earth published in 2018 Morning And Evening Exercises, a great album by Jorge Velez in which the American artist develops a style of abstract electronic music with a lot of harmonic load, a work that increases Velez’s plurality and his great capacity to adapt to any musical terrain.


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