- Victor Hugo once wrote that "music expresses that which cannot be put into words." But while it's true that few media can represent emotions like love or anger in the way music can, it also has many other purposes as well. Just think of the vast number of compilations, mixes, and re-edits on the market that explore distinctive contexts—genres, clubs or even something more personal to the artist or the compiler. The latter seems to be the case with Pthalo Records' Origins series. This collection of mostly unreleased, early John Tejada tracks is a kind of short thesis on the stylistic roots of the producer.
Tejada's work under the Lucid Dream name was, as the title Recovered Data 95 suggests, influenced strongly by early Aphex Twin and Autechre-style bedroom techno. Presumably working with the same sorts of machines, it's further proof that while Tejada has never been one to buck trends or sail into uncharted territory—think of some of his biggest tunes "Sweat on the Walls" or "The End of It All"—he's been able create a sound that's unmistakably his own. That unique Tejada trademark was still a work in progress at this stage in the mid '90s.
As you can hear on "Chortle," the producer was quite obviously listening to Autechre's Amber, its cascades of mournful analogue slinking along with foreboding and menace. Other familiar features include syncopated kicks, and crisp, reverbed electro snares that crackle in the high-midrange. All of these are staples throughout the album, but it would be unfair to dismiss Recovered as samey and average. Standout moments include "Cavatina," and when its delicate chills of floating in space are warmed up golden by a subtly offset, beautiful melody. It's a truly moving progression, which shows off Tejada's classically developed skill with harmony.
The hyperactive power-glitter-tech of "Trek," and the deep bubble chamber that "Lightning Scattered Around," meanwhile, are among the more interesting journeys that Tejada takes us on here, though they rarely stray as far as, say, the corners of the galaxy traversed by Jeff Mills in his Gamma Player compilations. It also lacks the timelessness of Amber or Aphex's SAW 85-92. There's plenty to Recovered Data, but unfortunately, this doesn't include the subtle spark that made Warp Records' early output so special, and that now makes Tejada's music what it is. Having said all this, the value of rating it against more developed material is probably less than that of analysing it historically, and the greatest value lies in the enjoyment of the album itself. To that end, Recovered Data 95 is decent listening music which showcases a talent on the brink of finding a language all his own.
08. Lightning Scattered Around
10. Lonesome Opus