Jeffrey Koepper: Transmitter

Transmitter documents a June 18th, 2017 performance given by Jeffrey Koepper in Philadelphia on WXPN's Star's End Radio broadcast. Using vintage analog synthesizers and sequencers, the long-standing electronic producer delivered a live-in-studio set comprised of six new pieces and one (“Halo”) from 2017's MantraSequent, also issued on Projekt, for the program. Koepper's kinetic material flows without pause for fifty-eight pulsating minutes, the sound mass exuding a sleek, synthetic sheen as it glides gracefully through one polyrhythmic sequence after another. High above, synth patterns twinkle incandescently, while at a deeper level, low-pitched drones act as an undercurrent, its almost tribal quality reminiscent of something one might hear in a Steve Roach production.

While uniformity reigns, Transmitter isn't one-dimensional. Sequencer patterns power the mass forward during much of it, but moments arise too where rhythmic insistence subsides and the music assumes a serene and rather blissed-out disposition (the starry-eyed closer “Clouds,” for example). Such moments don't last long, however, with Koepper, who once performed with the group Pure Gamma but has been operating solo for many a year now, generally focused more on animation than meditation. The set's connectedness argues against isolating individual tracks for discussion, yet mention must be made of “Darkness” for how effectively its repeated buildups showcase Koepper's handling of tension and release and for the dramatic impact of its eventual plunge into deep Tangerine Dream-styled atmospherics.

To say Transmitter exudes a classic ‘70s feel isn't inaccurate, though describing it as such sells what he's doing here a little short. Rather than see it as some modern-day replication of a hugely influential earlier era of synthesizer music, it might be more accurate to see it as perpetuating a style that's never gone out of date. No doubt echoes of Jean Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze, and others are audible in the recording, but that's little different from hearing in Keith Richards' playing traces of Chuck Berry and Buddy Guy. Put simply, every artist builds on the legacies of those that came before, regardless of genre. With that in mind, the text accompanying the release is arguably more on-point in pitching the release as “new electronic music designed for yesterday and tomorrow.”

February 2018