Album Review: JonTeknik ‘Giants Under the Microscope’

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To the casual listener, the genre of electronic music may seem somewhat lifeless and devoid of emotion. Robotic, even. However, for those who truly get it, that dismissive assessment couldn’t be further from the truth. On the contrary, electronic music is replete with life, and rife with emotion and passion. Indeed, you could even say that electronic music actually has a soul. Few artists understand that soul or demonstrate it better than Jon Russell, better known by his moniker, JonTeknik.

Hailing from Brighton, UK, Jon is one of the best-kept secrets in Europe. An accomplished producer and songwriter in his own right, Jon has had the distinction of having collaborated with the likes of Paul Humphreys and Claudia Brücken on their acclaimed Onetwo project, as well as contributing a stellar remix to OMD‘s recent Metroland single. Having begun his musical journey in the late-1980’s, Jon has deftly refined his craft of music making over the years to become one of the hottest up-and-coming players on the scene. Jon’s original compositions have been featured on the Discovery Channel, BBC, and Film24. He’s an international artist with a truly global perspective of the genre.

In the fall of 2012, Jon released his instrumental album, Giants Under the Microscope. It’s a 12-track opus that pays tribute to the pioneers of synth-pop in a truly impressive manner. Kraftwerk, OMD, Giorgio Moroder, et al. their influence is felt all over this album. It’s an album that evokes the glorious days of yore when analogue synthesizers ruled the scene, and every sound was new and exciting. Yet instead of sounding contrived and part of the ever-growing retro tribute bandwagon, Giants Under the Microscope sounds vibrant, original and very much alive!

Particular tracks of interest are: Manouevres, Metal Party, Robot Music (currently available as a single with several killer remixes), Head in Hands, and Finsterlin. All of the tracks have a decidedly German feel about them, which is a very good thing. Given the fact that Jon is a massive Kraftwerk fan, this should come as little surprise. However, his skill is keen enough to give just enough of a nod to Ralf & Florian to be relevant, without trying to BE Ralf & Florian by way of cheap imitation.

Manoeuvers is reminiscent of the experimental early days of OMD, which likely explains the track’s title. It sounds like something straight off their Organisation, or self-titled debut album. Metal Party and Robot Music have the feel of Kraftwerk circa ’86’s Electric Cafe era. Upbeat, and light. Whereas, Head in Hands, and Finsterlin are more on the mid-tempo and downbeat side. Each song springs to life in the form of pulsating beats with metronomic precision, and bass lines that rhythmically compliment the percussion in a most pristine and serene way. It’s sheer ear-candy!

It has it all: Vocoded vocals, tight bass lines, dreamy pads, and truly amazing harmonics that compliment the simple, yet beautiful melodies which surround them. I strongly recommend listening to Giants Under the Microscope with a really good pair of headphones, as doing so brings out every little nuance in the mix. It’s the perfect album to listen to in the car, or during that hectic commute to work.

Jon is currently wrapping up production on a new album of all-original material, that should be out later this year. In the meantime, check out his other releases, which can be found via his bandcamp website:

http://jonteknik.bandcamp.com

I’m awarding Giants Under the Microscope 5 out of 5 stars for being a truly enjoyable specimen of what exciting electronic music should be.

Giants Under the Microscope is available now via Bandcamp.com, iTunes, and Amazon. Buy it today and SUPPORT INDIE ARTISTS!

Jimm Kjelgaard – July 2013

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