John Tejada: Logic Memory Centre
Plug Research

One drawback to being so prolific is that an artist's latest release may prove difficult to hear without echoes of other work intruding upon it. So it is with John Tejada's tenth full-length Logic Memory Center which appears mere months after Our Lives On Wednesdays, his sophomore I'm Not A Gun collaboration with Takeshi Nishimoto. Initially that doesn't bode too well for this all-digital “computer album” (Tejada's own description) as it trades the dynamic live feel of INAG's post-rock for a programmed and thus more contained sound. Repeated listens, however, quickly supplant any lingering ennui with appreciation for Logic Memory Center's multiple charms. Stylistically, this sequel of sorts to 2003's Playhouse release Fairfax Sake (albeit with vocals) recalls Luomo and Matthew Dear, plus to a lesser degree Akufen and Ricardo Villalobos.

What helps distinguish the album is Tejada's gift for sonic nuance. In “Strange Creatures,” Kimi Recor's demure vocal impresses but so too do Tejada's tight snapping beats and intricate array of bleeps, clanks, and thrums. Similarly, while your attention is drawn to Jimmy Tamborello's sleepy drawl in “Everything Will Be OK,” Tejada adds to its backdrop a panning, surging skid yet integrated so smoothly it almost goes unnoticed. The jewel in this crown is “Alone With You” featuring Carl Finlow's supple vocal. There's a vague hint of Depeche Mode to his singing, as if the voices of Martin Gore and Dave Gahan were blended into one. With its swaying groove of minimal bass throbs and clickety clatter, the song is so melodically irresistible it might conceivably have escaped the Blue Skied An' Clear sessions.

Still, Tejada finds himself saddled by the same dilemma that dogs Leave Luck To Heaven: the vocal tracks shine so greatly, they overshadow the instrumentals which, no matter how accomplished, lack an equivalent immediate appeal. Consequently, “Alone With You” makes a well-crafted piece like “Possessive Patterns” seem inferior by comparison. To compensate, instrumental tracks must try harder, which “Unit B165,” for instance, does by adding croaking noises (reminiscent of the lapping clarinet patterns in Steve Reich's seminal Music For 18 Musicians) to its shimmying insectoid groove. It's merely one more magical moment in an album filled with many—even if Logic Memory Center sounds nothing like Our Lives On Wednesdays.

January 2005