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Indie, Noise, Shoegaze… Music

Michael B. Jerner tardó dos años para destrozar su buena imagen. “Ad Infinitum” será probablemente el epitafio de TELEKINESIS (Merge, 2015)

Pues exactamente dos años es el tiempo que estuvo recluido el inquieto Michael Benjamin Lerner para destrozar de un plumazo todo lo bueno que había ido construyendo con sus anteriores trabajos al mando de Telekinesis. Aunque con Dormarion (2013), ya apuntara convincentes maneras de destrucción que no todos quisieron ver.
El resultado de ese concienzudo trabajo con sintetizadores y cajas de ritmos analógicas es un disco que te puede gustar, evidentemente, si te gusta el género y no le haces ascos a la electrónica en la música. Para ello, pienso, ya hay suficientes bandas especializadas en el asunto…

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-onThomas Dolby, Flock of Seagulls, OMD, and Tubeway Army. Sonically, Ad Infinitum feels true to the era, but Lerner‘s sweet tooth for melody keeps things from ever getting too icy or over-stylized. Opener “Falling (In Dreams)” sets the tone, with a frosty two-chord verse that eventually gives way to a lush (and aptly dreamy) heartland refrain that suggests Soft Cell by way of Wilco, and that penchant for pairing electro-austerity with power pop acumen fuels most of the album’s strongest moments like “Sylvia,” the road trip-ready “Courtesy Phone,” and the soaring “Edgewood,” the latter of which suggests what the Killers might have sounded like had they formed in 1984 instead of the early 2000s. Lerner‘s easy and reliable delivery is the glue that keeps everything together, and while there’s little doubt that Ad Infinitum was conceived and created during a time of artistic upheaval, it retains all of the warmth and humanity that’s made his prior outings shine. Even when he starts mining Brian Eno territory, as is the case with the elegiac, Alphaville-inspired, two-part title track, it’s obvious that his era allegiances lean much further toward the John Hughes end of the spectrum than they do Joy Division(All Music)

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8 septiembre, 2016 Posted by | Telekinesis | Deja un comentario

Telekinesis: Dormarion (Merge, 2013)

La música de Michael Benjamin Lerner (Telekinesis) va madurando y el chico a sus veintiseis añetes nos deja Dormarion, ya su tercer trabajo hasta la fecha, además de algunos Ep´s.
Su sonido ha ido ganando, como decía, en madurez y en rotundidad. Para este tercer trabajo ha contado en tareas de producción con Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie), y su sonido es algo más agreste que en sus dos anteriores entregas. Pero ésto tiene truco. Porque, como decía anteriormente, sus canciones van creciendo, y como es habitual en tantísimos músicos, su sonido se va expandiendo hacia campos algo dispares a sus orígenes. Y ahí es donde aparecen los problemas, porque la música de Telekinesis (ya sin signo de admiración), es (¿o era?) puro Power-Pop, pura energía, y en este disco lo consigue especialmente en seis temas, justo la mitad de los doce que lo componen: Power lines, Empathetic people, Wires, Dark to light, Little hill y Laissez-Faire.
TelekinesisEs ahí cuando nos encontramos con las guitarras más endurecidas, con la actitud del Lerner de siempre, con la energía que le caracteriza, es decir, con ese espíritu inherente a su música de Matthew Sweet , para que me entendáis.
Pero cuando el chico se pone a juguetear con sintes, con melodías folkies, con medios tiempos… la cosa se le complica, y se le va de las manos, y sinceramente, el interés del disco baja muchos enteros. Probablemente en un futuro será lo que la música de Michael nos depare, aunque personalmente, me sigo quedando con su faceta Powerpopera. Me da más satisfacciones.

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To paraphrase Sam “Ace” Rothstein, Michael Benjamin Lerner’s voice is like an emotional car wash. No matter what Lerner is singing about, it all comes out sounding clean, winsome, andnice. It’s a good voice for the music he makes as Telekinesis— the power-pop blueprint has long relied on boyish dudes who can turn their inner misery into sunny songs, and Lerner’s pipes puts him squarely in the tradition of brooding tunesmiths like Matthew Sweet andFountains of Wayne’s Chris Collingwood. But Lerner’s soft tenor also tends to cleanse his music of any semblance of tension or grit or personality.
Telekinesis’ third album Dormarion is Lerner’s best, most bountifiul to date. At 35 minutes, it’s the longest Telekinesis record by approximately 150 seconds. Sonically, Lerner veers into synth-pop on alluring tracks like the billowy “Ghosts and Creatures” and the near-danceable “Ever True”, and flirts with toned-down hard rock on the magnetic start-stop riff of “Little Hill”. Trading in Chris Walla (who produced the first two Telekinesis LPs) for Spoon’s Jim Eno, Lerner has made Dormarion sound grander and tougher than his old records; he’s looking outside his modest melodic pop-rock for the first time while adding some heft to his always solid melodies. In the studio, Lerner handles almost all of the instruments (though Eno supplies his Bonham-like timekeeping to several tracks), but Dormarion sounds like it was conceived for his road band. As grabby as the New Order-like “Wires” is on record, the big drums and insinuating bassline ought to get hips swinging when Telekinesis plays it live.
Musically, Lerner has broadened his range of dynamics. But tonally, Dormarion is a little flat. Opening track “Power Lines” has the standard Telekinesis structure: A quiet acoustic verse, an explosive chorus, and Lerner’s sweet vocal confessing bitter truths. “I’m a broken man,” he sings. “I’m damaged goods.” Several tracks later, the low-key jangler “Lean on Me” is selling fantasies of idealized domestic bliss: “We could cross the country in our beat-up truck/ stopping every minute because the thing don’t run/ but I don’t care because we’re in love.” Lerner’s delivery is the same on both songs– happy or sad, he sounds blank. He’s like a narrator with no vocal inflections, which makes accessing something resembling an emotional core beyond the surface beauty of the songs very difficult.
If Dormarion is a record of superficial pleasures, at least those pleasures are considerable. As a craftsman, Lerner must be counted among the best young pop songwriters working in contemporary indie rock. At his best, like on “Wires”, he offers a wealth of hooks in the verse, chorus, and bridge. There’s no question he can put a good tune together; what’s less clear is whether he can interpret those tunes as well as he writes them, and breathe a little flesh-and-blood human messiness into them in the process” (Pitchfork)

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17 agosto, 2013 Posted by | Telekinesis | Deja un comentario

Telekinesis: 12 Desperate straight lines (2011)

Tras el bajón creativo experimentado con su anterior Ep, el fallido Paralell seismic conspiracies (2010), confieso que me detuve ante este nuevo álbum de Telekinesis (aka Michael Benjamin Lerner, y ya sin el signo de admiración en su nombre) con cierta desazón, auténticamente receloso de un cierto retroceso creativo. Lejos del desánimo, con cada tema de este 12 Desperate straight lines, la sensación de estar a gusto conmigo mismo se fue apoderando de mis oídos y mi subconsciente. Escrito y concebido tras una ruptura sentimental, Lerner se encuentra a sí mismo sin pareja y además sin banda. En vez de presentarnos una colección de canciones teñidas de melancolía y sentimentalismo barato, el tipo se saca un disco de la manga en la que las únicas concesiones a los sentimientos menos positivos están en la primera parte del disco. A partir de Car crash, el disco se torna en una colección de temazos del mejor Power-Pop, sin concesiones de ningún tipo. Las melodías se adueñan del álbum, las guitarras se afilan más que nunca (la colaboración del guitarrista Cody Votolato es fundamental), y los temas de Lerner se aferran a la mejor tradición Power-Popera, no sin ciertos elementos de influencia provenientes del Folk-Rock e incluso del Punk-Pop. Otro de los elementos que han ayudado a dar cohesión a este segundo álbum de Telekinesis es la producción de Chris Walla, al igual que en su disco de debut, lo que ha contribuido a darle una cierta sensación continuista, aunque en esta entrega su sonido ciertamente se ha “endurecido” de alguna manera, descubriendo Lerner a los Weezer más macarras (Ask for help, Car crash, Palm of your hand, I got you), siempre partiendo de los presupuestos musicales de un grande del género como como es Matthew Sweet. Otra de las influencias que al menos personalmente aprecio en algún que otro  de los temas del álbum es la del sonido de guitarras cercano al de ciertos grupos de la onda “oscura” de los años ochenta: ello se refleja en los riffs de cortes como Ask for help (un clarísimo préstamo de The Cure hábilmente camuflado) o Car crash. El disco tiene sus puntos débiles (Patterns, Country lane, 50 Ways), que se salen un tanto del patrón claramente establecido del Power-Pop intenso; pero son pequeñas lagunillas en un álbum que no sólo mantiene el nivel compositivo/instrumental del álbum de debut, sino que por momentos, nos atreveríamos a insinuar que incluso lo supera, en tanto que este disco es un trabajo mucho más reflexivo y arreglado que aquél, donde un aura de cierta inocencia post-adolescente era la protagonista en muchos de sus cortes. Juzgad vosotros mismos.

Telekinesis – 12 Desperate straight lanes (2011)

“Talk about a peculiar turn of events. Just last month, I was lamenting the failure of would-be grunge rock revivalists to effectively pick up the threads of the 90s Seattle scene and refashion them into something culturally relevant to this cold, sleek, Steve Jobs-designed dystopia of the twenty-teens. Suddenly, as if in answer to my challenge, what falls into my lap but 12 Desperate Straight Lines. Those astute scholars of indie rock may recall Telekinesis, a.k.a. Michael Benjamin Lerner, from his 2009 self-titled debut, a bright, jangly dose of pure pop charm that, for my tastes, was too cutesy for its own good. But the intervening years, marred by anxiety over the potential sophomore slump, as well as a variety of minor personal crises, have given Lerner a more sober perspective, causing him to dial back some of the preciousness of his previous effort and push his sound into harder-rocking (dare I drop the g-word?) grunge territory. The most satisfying fruits of Lerner’s newfound love of the distortion pedal show up in the album’s middle portion. “Car Crash” does an excellent job of marrying a tuneful chorus of “whoa-oh-ohs” with grunge dynamics, while “Palm of Your Hand” injects a shot of punk energy into his power-pop formula. “Fever Chill” provides a satisfying throwback to the flannel age by bookending a surly slow-build with a fleeting, rough-shod acoustic intro and coda. The only song that really steps over the line is “50 Ways,” Learner’s bitter, Paul Simon-inspired rumination on the inescapability of a lost lover. Banking too heavily on the LOUDquietLOUD shtick, he doesn’t really put enough of his own stamp on it, and the end result is a somewhat bland homage in the vein of Blood Red Shoes. Much more effective are “Please Ask for Help” and “Country Lane,” two songs that manage to channel the lovelorn wistfulness of The Cure better than any other indie band I’ve heard make the attempt in the past year (Blank Dogs, Asobi Seksu — I’m looking in your directions). The primary impetus behind these songs is purportedly the dissolution of the relationship that inspired Telekinesis’ debut, so it’s no surprise that 12 Desperate Lines talks an awful lot about breaking up. Any reflective person with some experience in the dating scene knows that it only takes one person to torpedo a bad relationship, but dismantling one that’s truly meaningful? That’s a job for two. Therefore, any breakup album worth its salt needs to dilute its “bitch-done-me-wrongs” with a healthy dose of introspection. Lerner peppers the album liberally with admissions of his own culpability (”Let’s start all over/ Let’s go back to square one/ I never loved you/ I never loved anyone”; ”I fell fast and/ You fell faster/ It wasn’t true love/ just like that it/ was a disaster”), but for the most part he lacks the depth of insight to really stick his fingers down the throat of love and come up with the kind of squirm-inducing revelations that The Afghan Whigs or Local H (That’s right, Local. Fucking. H.) have done on similar efforts. 12 Desperate Lines takes tried-and-true radio rock tropes and imbues them with enough life to make them feel fresh. The slightly jaded perspective and raucous impulses Lerner brings to the record provides a much-needed counterbalance to the lightness and breeziness of his songwriting style. If this is the kind of work that a bitter breakup elicits from him, then I hope that Mr. Lerner will forgive me for saying that I hope he gets dumped on a regular basis for many years to come” (tinymixtapes.com)

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Telekinesis – Car Crash (Mp3)

22 marzo, 2011 Posted by | Telekinesis | 1 comentario

Telekinesis: Car crash (Single, 2010)

 

La nueva entrega de Telekinesis, después del fallido Ep Parallel Seismic Conspiracies, editado a finales de este verano, se llama Car Crash, un tema que nos reencuentra con el verdadero sonido de Telekinesis, la banda de Michael Benjamin Lerner, un chico con aspecto de post-universitario con gafas de pasta y dependiente del supermercado de Clerks. Su música, sin embargo, está compuesta de la mezcla entre sentimientos y Power-Pop, y el resultado final, al menos de su disco de debut era más que notable. Su nuevo disco se espera que se edite allá por el mes de Febrero del año 2011. Por lo pronto, puedes disfrutar de este Car Crash, un tema de estructura clásica, guitarras afiladas y estribillo arrebatador: la eterna fórmula que siempre funciona!! Para la grabación de este nuevo álbum, Michael Benjamin ha colaborado con Chris Walla, guitarrista de Death Cab for Cutie y colaborador, entre otros de Nada Surf, The Termals o Tegan and Sarah. La revista Spin ha alojado este Mp3 para descargarlo gratuitamente.

Telekinesis – Car Crash (Single, 2010)

“When Telekinesis mastermind Michael Benjamin Lerner set out in July to record songs for the follow-up to his debut album Telekinesis!, he found himself with no band, a case of vertigo, and a wrecked van. The long-distance relationship that inspired his debut album’s songs of wanderlust had ended, and he had just returned from a much-needed escape to Berlin where he banished himself to a room in the warehouse district to write songs from 9 to 5 each day.
With the original recording date scrapped, Michael was inspired (by the heavy, fuzzy bass in Flin Flon’s A-OK) to buy a bass guitar and, in a sudden burst of inspiration, wrote four more songs for the album.
His second attempt at recording led him to Portland and Jackpot! Studios. Michael and Chris Walla continued their partnership from Telekinesis! and again recorded to tape. They tossed out all the rules—as they are wont to do when they get together—and, as Michael says, “went a little crazy,” with impromptu dance parties and recording drum parts backwards.
The result of all of this is 12 Desperate Straight Lines, twelve new songs of heartache, anger, and even a little hopefulness. Telekinesis has re-emerged with a new band featuring Jason Narducy (Robert Pollard band, Bob Mould band) on bass and Cody Votolato (Jaguar Love, The Blood Brothers) on guitar. The van is fixed, the dizziness is gone, and Michael Benjamin Lerner has returned with more proof that Spin was right when they said, “If you don’t like Telekinesis, your ears don’t work” (mergerecords.com)

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Oír-Hear: Car Crash

1 diciembre, 2010 Posted by | Telekinesis | 2 comentarios

Telekinesis: Parallel Seismic Conspiracies (Ep, 2010)

 

Telekinesis ha eliminado este año el signo de admiración que adornaba su nombre en su disco de debut. Para este Ep de 2010, su nombre aparece tal cual, quizás porque tampoco el contenido del disco invite a adornarlo de más florituras. Un Ep un tanto extraño, con dos versiones, dos temas propios y una reedición de un tema de su disco de debut. Sin un single claro, el tema más aprovechable a nuestro entender es la versión de un single de The Outfit: The Drawback, un animoso número que sí que va en la línea powerpopera de su debut. La cover de Guided by Voices, Game of pricks, tampoco desentona demasiado. Los demás cortes quedan un poco fuera de lugar, y pienso que más bien se traten de descartes anteriores o de su esperado segundo disco, 12 Desperate Straight Lanes, del que os acompañaré el tema de adelanto en otro post. Este Ep desde luego no quedará entre lo mejor de su producción.

Telekinesis – Parallel Seismic Conspiracies (Ep, 2010)

“The exclamation point that punctuated Michael Benjamin Lerner’s self-titled debut album as Telekinesis felt presumptuous. There were some sugary power-pop gems on that record, but they were outnumbered by alt-rock with tempos that ranged from a mid-paced walk to outright foot-dragging. Perhaps that’s why it’s a little surprising when one is reminded that Lerner’s a part of Merge’s stable; his songwriting style uncannily resembles that of the bands featured on Death Cab for Cutie’s pre-major label home, Barsuk– for better and for worse.
Maybe Lerner agrees: Telekinesis’ new EP, Parallel Seismic Conspiracies, suggests as much. The five-track release– a sort of teaser-holdover until the project’s forthcoming sophomore full-length, 12 Desperate Straight Lines– embraces a scruffy, home-recorded sound absent from the debut. The jump to lo-fi could be cynically seen as trend-jumping at a point where a great deal of new bands are setting up studios in their parents’ basements, but it turns out to be a good look for Lerner, adding a sense of rough-around-the-edges charm that suits his songwriting talents well. Not a single song on the EP– which itself just pushes a 10-minute running time– goes over three minutes, which makes the immediacy of new songs “Dirty Thing” and “Non-Toxic” more potent.
Elsewhere, “Calling All Doctors”, a somewhat grating piano-led lowlight from Telekinesis!, gets a much-needed facelift, as spiky guitar lines and a driving beat turns the previously sad-sack ballad into an enjoyably neurotic earworm. The sprightly rework highlights a new confidence evident on Parallel Seismic Conspiracies, one that perhaps led to a pair of ill-advised covers: Guided by Voices’ “Game of Pricks” and pre-Joy Division outfit Warsaw’s “The Drawback”. There’s nothing specifically wrong with Lerner’s take on the former– if anything, that’s the problem. It’s merely competent and feels unnecessary. The latter, on the other hand, showcases Lerner’s technically impressive drum skills with faster-than-fast fills, but his at times wide-eyed voice sounds ill-fitting when wrapped around the original’s wordy, political lyrics (“I find a promise in confessions of true faith/ And hypocrisy that always lies within”). Lesson to learn: It’s okay to stray from your comfort zone– just don’t go, you know, too far” (pitchfork.com)

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1 diciembre, 2010 Posted by | Telekinesis | 3 comentarios

Telekinesis!: Telekinesis! (2009)

 
 
Personalmente les tengo mucho respeto y afección a este tipo de proyectos digamos “unipersonales”, es decir, proyectos en los que un solo músico, bien en solitario, bien rodeado de acompañantes, realiza un álbum “a su medida”, siguiendo todos los parámetros preconcebidos previamente en su cabeza a la hora de grabarlo, aprovechándose de la facilidad que la tecnología le permite a la hora de registrar sus ideas. Es lo que pasó en muchos discos de Beck, Jack Drag, Brendan Benson … y en el caso que nos ocupa: Telekinesis!. El proyecto unipersonal de Michael Benjamin Lerner, antiguo batería de la zona de Seattle que se ha liado la manta a la cabeza y ha registrado un disco que sólo merece un calificativo: genial. Perfecto ejemplo de Power-Pop vitalista, enérgico, brillante tanto en su composición (todos los temas pertenecen a Lerner) como en su interpretación (también casi en su totalidad corre a su cargo). Lógicamente, se ha hecho acompañar de otros músicos de forma puntual para su grabación como para su interpretación en directo. Como decíamos, el álbum rebosa Power-Pop de alto quilataje durante sus once cortes, y aquí sí que sería difícil encontrar algo que no fuese interesante. Desde el tema uno hasta el once nos encontramos con verdaderas gemas Pop, a medio camino entre el mejor McCartney a Josh Rouse (Rust, Coast of Carolina, Great lakes, Imaginary friend, Calling all doctors, I saw lightning); con canciones que igualmente habrían firmado músicos como Brendan Benson, Robyn Hitchcock o el mismo Matthew Sweet (Foreign room, Tokyo, Look at the East, Awkward kisser, All of a sudden), algo más enérgicas. El disco está producido por Chris Walla (Tegan and Sarah, The Decemberists, Death cab for Cutie), de manera precisa y efectista. Absolutamente imprescindible y muy recomendado desde aquí.

“Michael Lerner is the sole member of Telekinesis, more or less. He writes, sings and plays the songs. His love of Japan knows no bounds, though he’s never been. He’s a fantastic drummer and a fearless singer. And he does not look back willingly. I mean, you can forcibly crane his head around in a pinch (mortal danger and Seinfeld reruns qualify). But Michael’s songs are ridiculously immediate, and he delivers them with blinding velocity. His approach to music isn’t unlike those spikes at the rental car place: Backing up deflates the tires, and not in a pleasant way.It’s reflected in Michael’s writing, too, this philosophy of ever- forward motion. These are big-hearted songs, written quickly and from the gut. Telekinesis is the geography of dreams; a school year abroad; love letters from Liverpool coffee shops to the Carolina coastline and Tokyo and everywhere in between everywhere; a road trip waiting to happen. And it’s absolutely perfect, but not because anyone went back to fix it. It just happened that way” (Merge Records)
 

“Lerner’s gorgeous vocals, sunny melodies, and ultra-catchy choruses sound like a Fab Four fantasy trip as he logs extensive mileage in a rush of crisscrossing travelogue songs. He races along the Coast of Carolina to bullet trains in Tokyo to a wistful outing in the Great Lakes. Matthew Sweet wishes he still had power-pop mojo like this” (Spin.com)
 

 

3 abril, 2009 Posted by | Telekinesis | Deja un comentario

   

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