Though it isn’t marketed as such (I don’t think it’s been marketed much at all), John Tejada’s Sleepwalker album is something of an extension or a bookend to Year of the Living Dead. That 2021 album, released with far more fanfare by Kompakt, was a record made during and heavily influenced by the pandemic lockdown. Lots of producers who specialized in dancefloor material found themselves at a loss during this period. Tejada made an album that was pure introspection — music for headphones rather than soundsystems.
You don’t need much imagination to pontificate what an album called Sleepwalker might mean in that context. The video for the lead track “Shattered” shows a looping trip through a tunnel, superimposed over a kind of icy, alien plant. You never really progress down this tunnel but you keep going — the journey isn’t the reward but the intention might be, a desire to break camp, to escape after forced inactivity.
Sleepwalker — quietly released as a digital album in March — applies the sound palette of Year of the Living Dead but here Tejada is out in the world again, or at least trying to get there. A few steps in, and then back — mask mandates, travel restrictions, borders that open and close for everyone except the rich for whom a wallet is better than a passport. That’s a pretty good summary of early 2022 for our lot, and I think it’s that world Tejada is exploring here. “Excursion” is all fits and starts — it builds momentum and locks up again.
Sleepwalker thaws as it goes on and frequently hits points of absolute beauty, echoing the warmth of late ’90s Detroit techno in its determination to build human connections in an inhuman environment.
John Tejada: Sleepwalker (Palette Recordings / 12″ Vinyl / Digital)
1. John Tejada: Shattered (05:36)
2. John Tejada: Excursion (05:28)
3. John Tejada: Over The Wires (04:44)
4. John Tejada: When We Dead Awaken (03:57)
5. John Tejada: Whip Hand (05:05)
6. John Tejada: Unafraid (04:44)
7. John Tejada: Skull Music (04:30)
8. John Tejada: Isolate (03:40)
⚪️ Disclosure Statement: This record was not submitted as a promo.