John Tejada: Parabolas

John Tejada, who surely belongs in that rarified “needs no introduction” category, adds a new wrinkle to his professional trajectory by issuing his latest full-length on Kompakt rather than on his own Palette Recordings, a move that should surely expose his music to another set of listeners. Not that he has anything left to prove at this stage of his journey, but Parabolas nevertheless exudes a vitality and spark that reveals why the California-based DJ and producer is still such a creative force after two decades of recording activity.

The collection exudes the meticulous tech-house style which we've come to associate with Tejada, even if it does branch out into other less club-centric zones. “Farther and Fainter” strikingly manages to sound like both a prototypically sleek Tejada production and a Kompakt track, which boasts a fresh and innocent vibe one associates with the early days of the Berlin label. In this case, keyboards sing gleefully as they work through serpentine melodic syncopations, while the lithe beat pattern lends the track an elegant propulsion. There's a dreamy quality and a heightened melodic emphasis that makes it an ideal entry point for the hour-long album. Representative of Tejada's style, “The Living Night” and “A Flexible Plan” offer creamy blends of radiant synthetics and exuberant techno and house swing (Tejada even sneaks a hint of Latin into the latter track's hard-grooving pulse).

Parabolas isn't a non-stop club collection, as Tejada occasionally moves into other stylistic areas. “The Dream” and “The Honest Man,” for example, are beatless ambient settings one could imagine functioning as lounge breaks for the album's otherwise dancefloor-focused material. Tejada isn't afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve either. “Subdivided” lifts a funky beat pulse from Kraftwerk's Computer World, while the bleepy, labyrinthine surfaces of “Mechanized World” and “Unstable Condition” suggest ties to early Warp-styled IDM. Rolling out a slippery funk groove, claps, and chiming keyboard melodies, “Timeless Space” even slows the pace for a downtempo excursion into a head-nodding fusion of IDM and hip-hop.

It's not inconceivable that some listeners might find Tejada's material too polished and lacking in emotion—his tracks certainly eschew the outpouring of raw intensity one hears in deep house, for instance—but the sophisticated gleam of Parabolas nonetheless succeeds on its own terms. Tracks such as “Farther and Fainter” and “The Living Night” alone make the trip one worth taking.

August 2011