Jonas Reinhardt: Powers of Audition

That space rock outfit Jonas Reinhardt is now a band—drummer Damon Palermo, guitarist Phil Manley, and bassist Diego Gonzalez having joined synthesizer player Jesse Reiner (the sole member behind the self-titled debut album) for the San Francisco group's second album Powers of Audition (the title alludes to refers simply to the listener's innate tendency to ‘audition' sound and fill in blanks left by the composer)—rather than a single individual is borne out by the blistering reading given to “Atomic Bomb Living,” a delirious, hot-wired anthem driven by stampeding drum playing and cosmic synthesizers that sound perpetually poised on the cusp of meltdown. “Orbiter Dicta” likewise underscores its swirls of burbling haze with restless, hi-hat-driven patterns that give the song an urgency characteristic of a live band performance. While the thick synthesizer chords coursing through the radiant overture, “Mumma Deed Family Clone,” could have been the work of Reiner alone, other pieces have a fuller, ensemble feel to them. The title track, for instance, trades on the kind of motorik propulsion that so famously characterizes Autobahn's “Kometenmelodie 2,” and in “Near Mirrored Pit Viper,” plodding kosmische musik pulsations and vintage synthesizers rub shoulders with slow-burning guitar textures.

The Jonas Reinhardt sound still tips its hat to the early synthesizer days of yore—think Jean-Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze, Cluster, Neu!, and Tangerine Dream, among others (three minutes into the epic, ten-minute closer “Wastrel Eyelid”, the group references most explicitly Tangerine Dream in analog patterns one easily could imagine appearing on Phaedra )—but does so with an energy, affection, and enthusiasm that makes the album's material sound fresh. If the group's sound harks back to that earlier era, the album's running time looks back too: at just under forty minutes, Powers of Audition's seven tracks would fit perfectly onto a twelve-inch slab of thick, black vinyl.

May 2010