John Tejada Dead Start Program

[Kompakt; 2018]

Styles: non-Euclidean tech-house
Others: Ricardo Villalobos, Caustic Window

John Tejada’s Dead Start Program is something of an entry-level electronic myth-busting event. That’s no criticism, surely: Tejada has arranged precisely the kind of programmatic tech-house concerto that rockist critics abhor, without falling into any of the genre’s (perceived) trappings. Just a quick glance at the record’s title underscores that Dead Start Program is a reflexively point-counterpoint endeavor.

Q: Dead?
A: Live. Remarkably organic, even. Navigating the antiseptic old-school sound of mid-90s Logic Pro synthesizers and Richard D. James’s back catalog but injecting the paradigmatic aesthetic with humor in the Hippocratic sense — one highlight is even titled “Heal.” Admittedly, Tejada’s process is closer to transmutation: the assortment of sonic widgets on “Detector” progressively engages, spins, bends, assembles, and disassembles as Tejada breathes energy into the golem track’s strobing sequences. And the dystopic dancefloor on “Hypocondriac” pulses a circadian rhythm that draws the chaos-generated butterfly wings of Lorenz’s strange attractor — life out of the void (THV VBHV).

Q: Start?
A: End. Or lack thereof — of either beginning or end. Rather, every point expresses linear movement, but that’s deceptive. Like 3-manifolds, the small enough observer perceives Euclidean space where in reality there’s only boundlessness. Sure, tracks may start out modest and swell and falter and swell and falter and swell and falter and… that’s just the point: the sonic matrix is cyclical itself. On “Autoseek,” it is torus-shaped; “Telemetry” is a non-Euclidean assembly line. We’re talking about peculiar linearity and non-linear peculiarity — “start” and “end” are meaningless, or unimportant.

Q: Program?
A: Chaos. Ordered chaos; non-random movement, yet unpredictable outcomes. Think: a synchronized swimming routine is minutely different each time it’s performed — likewise tech-house. Record cuts, therefore, are but snapshots of inherently unstable ideas. Yet Tejada’s sequences are, in addition, internally effervescent, shimmering; every loop traces a cycle whose shape only becomes clearer with each repetition — again, the butterfly. “The Looping Generation,” for one, replicates the orchestrated anarchy of non-linear bio-trajectories: sonic arrays in disarray, then ordered to reorder.

Dead Start Program isn’t revolutionary, but its dynamism methodically subverts the formulaic expectations enumerated in the record’s title: at worst, it’s helpfully rudimentary and nonetheless a comfortable addition to the Kompakt canon of oblique club-scene rearticulations.

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