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John Tejada / Thomas Fehlmann - Logic Memory Center / Lowflow

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Artist: John Tejada / Thomas Fehlmann

Album: Logic Memory Center / Lowflow

Label: Plug Research

Review date: Mar. 23, 2005

Early releases on the Plug Research label, from the likes of Low Res and Crank, were clumsy and ill-fitting; you could hear the artists grabbing at a cornucopia of electronica styles, but the end result steadfastly refused congruence, relying on a garbled mish-mash of empty signifiers. A good half-decade later, John Tejada’s Logic Memory Center evokes a similar response, though it’s borne of an almost diametrically opposing aesthetic. Tejada’s solo productions are often underdeveloped: one can’t help but think he needs collaborators to bring out his best (check the Playhouse releases with Arian Leviste for corroborating evidence.) Logic Memory Center’s vocal cuts are thin, the toybox melody of “Alone with You,” sung with precious precision by Carl A. Finlow, sounding like a lazy Junior Boys out-take. Sometimes Tejada cribs sounds from Mouse on Mars circa Niun Niggung but fails to access the heart-bursting jouissance at the heart of said group’s decorous drive.

There are a few pleasant moments on Logic Memory Center: the croaking, wheezy voice that ghosts “Unit B1656” unsettles the track’s symmetrical glide. On “Inside Out” and “Strive,” Tejada utilizes the choppy, skip-jump textures of Akufen, but pared-back, a child’s simplistic hand-rendering of Marc Leclair’s rapturous techniques. In both cases, Tejada’s good idea runs out of steam, and he relies on uninspired derivations to draw tracks out to a near-uniform five minutes. In a response that’s becoming way too predictable, and yet entirely expected given the glut of similar releases – both content and quality-wise – Logic Memory Center is too pleasant to dislike, but too unremarkable to care for either way.

Lowflow is, apparently, Thomas Fehlmann’s “downbeat” album. Lest that imply melancholy, it’s probably safer to peg Lowflow as “downtempo,” and though I’m not sure where downtempo music has been for the past however-long – something to do with slovenly rhythms, weed, and flaccid, bored textures, I should imagine – Fehlmann comes close to redeeming the genre. It’s Fehlmann’s feel for texture that does the trick, feeding incongruent source material into gem-like tracks, details flickering through the mix like light through tinted glass. Sometimes his referencing is a bit gauche: the Rhodes tinkle and bell tickle of “Hana” signifies rote limp-tronica. When Fehlmann shoots panning steel drums into “Prefab,” he’s much more inventive. “Andrea is Delighted” is where Lowflow comes together, with a low-level scrum of unknown sound winding its way around reverb-drenched dub stabs. Imagine the children of Basic Channel strung out to dry on a head-nod rhythm. Though the terrain explored may be different, the attention to detail is pure Fehlmann, and the thread that connects this music to his stellar Kompakt work is his perspicacity and production flair. Tracks like “Making it Whistle” are text-book Kompakt because Fehlmann knows how to source the key elements of a genre or movement and then embellish signifiers with exotic nuance. He repeats this trick on Lowflow, and we, and “downtempo,” are both better for it.

By Jon Dale

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