Jonas Reinhardt: Jonas Reinhardt

It's easy to understand why Jonas Reinhardt's eponymous album might polarize listeners. Some will cringe at the thought of an entire album's worth of instrumental synthesizer music perpetuating the Kosmische Musik style associated with art-rock acts like Cluster, Faust, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, et al.; others—I'm one—will welcome the ongoing resurrection of synthesizer-based music-making by the likes of White Rainbow and Reinhardt. The San Francisco, California native is no new kid on the electronic block either: he's been working with analog synths for more than a decade and, in the late ‘90s, studied music synthesis at the Harvard Electronic Music Center.

During the fifty-minute collection, he wisely avoids sameness by shifting moods and styles from one track to the next—compare the subdued melancholia of “Fast Blot Declining” to the grandiose extroversion of “Lord Sleep Monmouth,” for example, and note the segue from beatless pastoralia to squiggly synthesizer pulsations during “Blue Cutaway/Tore Earth Clinker”—and consequently listening attention is held, in spite of the generally circumscribed range of sounds he chooses to work with. Throughout the album's thirteen tracks, primitive drum machine rhythms act as motorik foundations for the starry-eyed melodies that streak across the night skies. It begins with “Lyre of David,” a reverberant overture of sweeping tones and celestial melodies, and takes a slow-burning cruise through the galaxies in “Tandem Suns” before surreptitiously landing onto train tracks for a clattering coda. In a seeming nod to Reinhardt's forebears, the driving drum machine rhythms of Kraftwerk's “Autobahn” are given second life during the Dionysian psychedelia of “Every Terminal Evening.” Yes, Reinhardt's music is rooted in the past, specifically the traditions of 20th -century instrumental synthesizer music, yet he invests the material with such energy and spirit that it sounds new and invigorated.

December 2008