John Tejada

Cleaning Sounds Is a Filthy Business

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John Tejada's latest album is, by his own description, an attempt to recapture the feelings he first felt when encountering techno in the late '80s and early '90s. A full-on nostalgia fest would have been a little much, though, and so Cleaning Sounds finds a good balance between earlier and more recent styles that again demonstrates his skill at exhibiting both perfect taste and the ability to cut loose a bit. If too much of what got stuck with the label of progressive house was dull-as-dishwater nth-generation Jean Michel Jarre meets Euro-disco, Tejada approaches his particular blend here differently, finding ways to let the sheer exhilaration of the earliest days drive his compositions but letting them be tempered in the mix, turning down the volume but never the intensity. The result is something rare: a joy to dance to as much as it is a joy to just listen to. Hearing what's almost a classic Joey Beltram riff turned into understated melody -- but without losing that compelling edge that made it so great to start -- is part of what makes songs like "Mutation" and "Clever Bunch" so good, for instance. "What Happened to Manners?" sets the tone elegantly between microhouse minimalism and hitting the dancefloor, while "The Zone" proves to be the album's centerpiece, it's simplicity recalling the immediate early efforts of the past while have a sleek up-to-date kick all its own. If the future is now the past when it comes to so much electronic music, Cleaning Sounds still demonstrates the power it can have in the right hands.

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