John Tejada - Dead Start Program

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  • John Tejada's catalogue is as vast as it is varied. Since 1996, he's released 12 full-lengths and dozens of EPs under his own name. There's his work under various aliases—the swung loops of Mr. Hazeltine, Aphex Twin-inspired techno as Lucid Dream, acidy material as Autodidact—and a string of collaborations with, among others, Arian Leviste, Justin Maxwell and, most recently, the US comedian and musician Reggie Watts, currently the house band leader on The Late Late Show With James Corden. (As Wajatta, they put out a funky house single, "Runnin'," late last year.) His 13th solo LP, though, is his core sound: melodic techno. Dead Start Program is vintage Tejada, which is to say it's modern Tejada, too. His solo efforts have been so alike that in places they begin to feel interchangeable. That's not necessarily a slight when you're as prolific and consistent as Tejada, and fans of the Vienna-born producer's past three LPs on Kompakt will find more to like here. Dead Start Program is named after the analog program used to reboot an old CDC 6600 computer, a name that Tejada says represents "a reboot from the challenges life throws at you." That might be overselling it. The tunes are often more ruminative than rousing. Some tracks might strike you as unobtrusive, headphones-at-your-desk music that's terrific for productivity, the type to which Tejada seems to refer in "Duty Cycle," conjuring the quotidian urgency of a production line. "Detector" is as rowdy as Tejada gets here. Its flanged synth chords punctuate a melodic techno sound, equally of Detroit and Europe. In short, classic Tejada. "Sleep Spindle" is moodier, with greyscale synth notes and pattering percussion that could soundtrack a tense scene in a sci-fi movie. It pairs well with "Loss," which deftly evokes a similar mood with mournful organ synths and creepy top notes. The track's emotional cues are easy to read, and the titles help point them out—consider the discombobulating effect of "All At Sea." "Heal" doesn't quite do as its name suggests, but it's one of the album's more conspicuous cuts, skilfully splicing melodies. "Quipu," named after an ancient Incan recording device, brings the record to an ethereal close, though, Tejada being Tejada, the machines aren't done away with entirely. Amid the orchestral strings and irregular drums you'll hear the rich melodic layers and electronic processing that have long been Tejada hallmarks. His stamp is all over this typically classy if unsurprising album.
  • Tracklist
      01. Autoseek 02. Detector 03. Sleep Spindle 04. Hypochondriac 05. Loss 06. The Looping Generation 07. Telemetry 08. Duty Cycle 09. All At Sea 10. Heal 11. Quipu