Austria-born, California-based producer John Tejada has straddled the line between carefully crafted, home-listening electronic music and sleek, minimal house for the bulk of his career, making him one of those rare touring DJs whose work has an undercurrent of domesticity to it. That might not be the most fashionable look (Tejada is, even in electronic music circles, far from a star), but the gamut has served him well creatively, resulting in an impressive nine full-lengths for labels as diverse as Plug Research, his own imprint Palette, and Kompakt over the course of his 14-year arc. Over that time, Tejada has forged a reputation as a master craftsman, his attention to small sculptural details nicely offsetting his brand of crisp, elegant house.
Like the leads in some convoluted rom-com, it has taken Kompakt and John Tejada over a decade to get together, but—as everyone else can see—they're made for each other. They share, not only a deep, abiding faith in melody, but also a high-spec, polished production sheen that, far from feeling cold, gives their best work a luminous, spiritual dimension. Los Angeles' Tejada enjoys much sunnier surroundings than his new German colleagues, but both are in the business of wringing an otherworldly emotional intensity from highly manufactured machine music.Ironically, if there is a criticism, a lingering doubt about Tejada, it is quite the opposite: that his work lacks soul.
Some people think they're mere conduits for the music; some think they're on their way out in this age of flatlining industry; some ('sup, Quietus eds) don't think they need to be included in the reviews… but we can still talk about record labels, can't we? Dance labels, specifically, and how so many of them end up being pretty much a microgenre in themselves. The likes of Warp and Planet Mu, who started with a consistent aesthetic and later sprouted in all kinds of directions, are anomalies. Generally, if a dance imprint's stuck it out for, say, fifty releases, you can talk about “that Pubic Wax sound” (or whatever the label's called) and someone somewhere will understand you.
Musically, John Tejada has always worn his heart on his (LP) sleeve. Showing his love for both Detroit techno and Warp Records, the Vienna, Austria producer has released a decade's worth of post-minimal-minded instrumentals that always come off as affectionate and playful despite their stainless-steel facades. On The Predicting Machine (his ninth LP and second for Germany microhouse institution Kompakt), Tejada focuses on extraditing these thematic, dramatic sounds rather than blending them.