Release Date: Sep 18, 2015
Record label: Merge
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop
Michael Benjamin Lerner's fifth outing under the Telekinesis moniker finds the power pop-loving musical polymath putting away his Cheap Trick albums and diving headfirst into the crowded waters of the early 21st century new wave/synth pop revival. Lerner hit a wall (creatively) after 2013's primarily guitar-dominated Dormarion, succumbing to the throes of artistic torpor that so often follow a period of prolificacy, but instead of giving up and finding a more respectable career, he decided to jump-start his rock & roll heart by investing in a bunch of vintage synths and drum machines. However, instead of concentrating on the more dance-oriented aspects of the 2010s '80s revival, Lerner goes full-on Thomas Dolby, Flock of Seagulls, OMD, and Tubeway Army.
Telekinesis' Michael Benjamin Lerner pieced together their last record, Dormarion, with a vibrant mix of all the musical ideas that came before it. The result was a sonic collage of possibilities, whereas Ad Infinitum feels like an exploration of just one of many. Most of the punk rock energy and guitars are left behind for rich synths, and rhythm parts are almost exclusively limited to throbbing basslines and drum loops.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Telekinesis is the moniker which multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Michael Benjamin Lerner has been releasing music under for the last seven years. On his 2009 debut, Lerner married candied hooks and bubblegum riffs to wide-eyed wondered themes of young love, while his fatalistic 2011 follow-up found catharsis by way of fuzz guitars and pensive balladry as he dealt with the subsequent break up.
What’s a songwriting drummer to do when he puts away the sticks in favor of vintage synthesizers and drum machines? For Michael Lerner, making music with machinery hasn’t dampened or reoriented his melodic gifts. Exploring songs from a different angle and becoming engrossed in learning and toying with his new collection of synthesizers clearly resulted in more free-flowing creativity from Lerner. But on Telekinesis’ fourth album, the synthesizers serve to refocus rather than reinvent his songwriting.
—“Losing My Edge”, LCD Soundsystem The story behind Telekinesis’ fourth album goes that Michael Lerner went downstairs to his newly built basement studio one day only to find a serious case of writer’s block waiting for him. It wasn’t brought on by the domestic stability afforded by being recently married and planted out in the calm environs of West Seattle (a fine place to raise kids, by the way). No, it was guitars.
Michael Benjamin Lerner spent two years learning about vintage synthesizers and forgetting about guitars and drums, but the resulting Ad Infinitum sounds surprisingly like classic Telekinesis. Lerner's flirtation with synths and machinery began on his 2013 album Dormarion, hinting that that he might someday trade indie pop for synthpop. As far back as his 2009 debut, he pled for the attending physicians of "Calling All Doctors" to "replace my heart with a machine." With Ad Infinitum, the operation is complete.
Vintage, dusty synthesizers are quite a departure for Michael Benjamin Lerner, a.k.a. Telekinesis. Essentially scrapping the power pop signifiers of his first three LPs, Lerner’s predilection for motorik beats and washes of analog synths are initially jarring throughout Ad Infinitum. Yet once you get past the surprise of this extreme instrumental turnabout, you’re left with the songs, which are among the most finely crafted and catchiest of his discography, albeit in an altogether reinvented sonic vernacular.