John Tejada: Signs Under Test (Kompakt)
John Tejada has been quietly releasing top-notch music for a long time now, and his latest full-length on Kompakt is one of his best. It’s a slick collection of eleven meticulously crafted minimal techno and tech house numbers that go down easily, occasionally drawing comparisons to the clean productions of Aril Brikha, but repeat listens reveal Tejada’s signature attention to detail and knack for lush, evocative moods. The first cut, “Two 0 One” captures this well, a melancholic dancefloor number that combines a bouncy bassline with lilting melodic tones. Likewise, the languid melodic lead of “Beacht” lends just the right amount of mystique to a fairly tightly wound dancefloor-compatible track.
The arc of the album feels cohesive and deliberate, but my favorites fall just over the halfway point. “Penumbra” is jaunty and has a really slick cleanness to its arrangement. I think one of the big strengths of Signs Under Test is Tejada’s synth sounds — they sound fresh and uncomplicated, clean and uncluttered. His arrangements are detailed and complex, but each sound is clear and distinct. This balance of precision and accessibility is a deft one, sort of fusing all of the various strengths of Kompakt’s repertoire and Tejada’s own.
“Endorphins” is sort of the darker follow-up to “Penumbra,” equally compelling with its blippy sequences and syncopation. It’s hard to call out too many highlights because ultimately every track here is a highlight. Highly recommended for fans of clean, melodic techno with an edge. Easily my favorite album of 2015 so far.