Switched On: John Tejada – Year Of The Living Dead (Kompakt)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Year Of The Living Dead would seem to be a direct statement on the extended time we have had to spend in lockdown, but for John Tejada it appears to be bearing the fruits of his musical endeavours in that period. For the eight tracks making up his fifth album in a decade on the Kompakt label, Tejada broadened his scope to use unfamiliar electronic instruments, the result being an eight track body of work operating with the reassuring freedom he has always employed.

What’s the music like?

A mixture of comforting keyboard pads and edgy beat workouts. Tejada has always had his own distinct approach, and here we get the familiar parts of his sound – warm chords, intricate rhythms, offbeat loops and rhythmic cells – dressed up with less familiar musical explorations, taking in dub and more direct electro.

Tejada always exhibits consummate control over his music but this never stifles its emotional impact. Darker thoughts are afoot in the steely edged Abbot Of Burton, which puts its foot down after the suntrap that is Spectral Progressions. Meanwhile the opening trio of the album, The Haunting Of Earth, Sheltered and Eidolon, are a familiar presence with their intricate clicks and rhythmic cells.

Does it all work?

Yes. With an open ear and an attention to detail, Tejada never hits a dud – which is something we can reliably say about pretty much all of his considerable output.

Is it recommended?

Yes. A new John Tejada album is always a welcome arrival, and it’s great to see his reluctance to fall back on his laurels and produce replicas of previous albums. His music continues its organic process and repeated hearings reveal just how much there is going on in each track. Recommended for devotees, of which there are many, but also for new visitors.

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