Album Review: JONTEKNIK – The Satellites of Substance

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Jonteknik’s latest album has already sold out of it’s first pressing, and it hasn’t even been officially released yet. The album doesn’t drop until 4 November 2013, yet the first series of factory-pressed CDs have all been spoken for. Impressive, to say the least. Yes, folks, the word is rapidly spreading all over the world that Jonteknik is composing some of the most brilliant old-school-flavored electro gems we’ve heard in recent memory. What some of you may not know, however, is that this isn’t the first time one of Jon’s projects has met with such impressive success.

Allow me to take a brief historical detour, if you will………..

I was first introduced to Jonteknik’s music in the summer of 2000, by a gentleman named Martin Pursey. Jon had done an instrumental cover of The Beatles’Eleanor Rigby’ that was simply brilliant! At the time, Martin Pursey was Paul Humphreys‘ tour manager, and I had just booked Paul to be the headliner for my Synthstock 2000 music festival. I met up with Martin and Paul in LA a few weeks before the festival, and throughout my brief visit with them, both Martin and Paul raved about how gifted a musician and budding producer Jon was. I was very impressed by what I heard, and never forgot his name.

I then had the pleasure of meeting Jon Russell (the ‘Jon’ in Jonteknik) vicariously through Paul Humphreys back in 2004. At the time, I was spearheading the e-commerce/distribution aspect of Paul’s Onetwo project, which Jon was collaborating on as both producer and co-writer of some of the tracks for their debut Item EP. Jon’s trademark, Kraftwerk-ian style was all over a track called ‘Signals’.

The common bond that me, Paul, Claudia, and Jon all shared was our deep love and admiration for Kraftwerk and European electronic pop. Jon’s innate feel and passion for electronic pop served to further bolster the legendary skills of Paul Humphreys and Claudia Brücken. The combined efforts of these brilliant artists yielded some of the best synth-pop of the past 30 years.

Granted, I’m a tad biased in saying so, but the Item EP was a fantastic work of art. I clearly wasn’t the only person to feel so positively about the EP, as we sold out of the first pressing of Item within less than 30 days of its release, and that was largely on word-of-mouth promotion!

I’ve believed in Jon since day one, and I knew that both he, and Onetwo would progress and move on to even bigger and better things.

The release of Jon’s new album, The Satellites of Substance is proof positive of this.

I’ve stated in my previous reviews of Jon’s work that in the absence of a new Kraftwerk album, for fans of Düsseldorf-inspired electro, Jonteknik is the next-best thing……. and perhaps even a tad better in some respects. Jon understands the soul of electronic music, and his ability to inject a strong pop element into his songs is something that even Mr. Hütter seems to have forgotten how to do. The songs of Jonteknik capture your ears and your imagination with their subtle, rigid beauty.

The Satellites of Substance is a thoroughly enjoyable 15-track journey into a robotic and scientific world that fascinates and captivates the listener from beginning to end with percolating electronic rhythms, vocoded vocals, and surgically-precise arpeggiated synth patterns. Like his German heroes, Jon selects rather mundane themes for his songs’ subject matter. Ranging from art galleries and communications satellites, to electronic music and astronomy as his topics of interest, the album’s material is surprisingly cohesive and fluid.

The songs, while diverse in their subject matter, all fit together in a witty and intelligent way.

Some of the highlights of the album include:

People at an Exhibition – The first single to be released from the album pays tribute to the joy of art galleries and the patrons who frequent them. Has a nice, steady rhythmic flow and the text-to-speech vocals made popular by Krafterk on their post-millennial releases and OMD‘s recent English Electric album.

The Stars Are Not Alone – A lovely mid-tempo, minor key, syncopated rhythmic track.

Music by Machines – An upbeat EDM type of track that clocks in at a swift 135 bpm. The fastest track on the album, sounds like a session with Karl Bartos. Right to the famous digital lead singer (i.e. vocoder).

It’s Nice Behind Glass  – A really fun track featuring a female text-to-speech synthesized voice that sounds precisely like the female voice in OMD’s ‘Atomic Ranch’ track.

Landsat 7 – A tribute to a communications satellite, that has a gorgeous arpeggiated bassline and mellotron-ish choir pads. One of my faves on the album. Perfect song to drive to.

Jon is also keenly aware of not letting his tracks drag on for too long, as many instrumental-minded artists tend to do. Listeners nowadays tend to lose interest if a track becomes too self-involved and winds on forever and ever, you know….. kinda like my music does (LOL!). This impulse to deliver rambling and trance-inducing 7-plus minute songs that rarely evolve, can fatigue even the most ardent fan of the genre, to say nothing of the casual listener.

Thankfully, Jonteknik doesn’t fall into this trap. In fact, the average track length on The Satellites of Substance clocks in at an economical 2:30. Just enough to pique your ears & your interest.

The album will be available via iTunes, Amazon, and other outlets on 4 November for those who prefer their music in digital format. Due to the advance success of The Satellites of Substance, Jon has decided to also release a single/remix album for one of the album’s standout tracks, People at an Exhibition, which will be available on a factory-pressed CD just in time for Christmas. This release, which will be called, People at an Exhibition, will contain 14 tracks comprised of remixes of the title track, as well as several other songs from The Satellites of Substance. Some of the featured remixers on the upcoming remix album are a veritable who’s who of the burgeoning indie electronic pop scene.

Metroland, NEON, People Theatre, Shaun Kelly, and Minus-K are just some of the remixers who have contributed their own unique interpretations on Jonteknik’s songs for this upcoming album. So be on the lookout come December, and stay tuned to these pages for further details.

There’s so much to be excited for in the world of Jonteknik and electronic music. He’s here to stay, folks, and The Satellites of Substance is a firm statement that he’s the real deal. Jonteknik is the next progression in the evolution of what began in Düsseldorf over 40 years ago. Therefore, I’m awarding The Satellites of Substance five out of five stars for being a truly engaging and enjoyable listening experience that reminds me with each listen, why I fell in love with electronic music so many years ago.

As a musician and producer, this is the type of record I wish I could make. I truly cannot offer higher praise than that. Like all of Jonteknik’s previous work, this album belongs in your collection. You need to get acquainted with this artist if you’re unfamiliar with him.

Get Jonteknik in your library and in your head. I assure you, your heart will follow.

Now…….. get out there & make it so!

You can pre-order The Satellites of Substance on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-satellites-of-substance/id706309039

I also highly recommend you follow Jonteknik on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Jonteknik

While you’re at it…….. check out this splendid promo video for People at an Exhibition: 

 

SUPPORT INDIE ARTISTS! 

Jimm Kjelgaard – October 2013

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One response to “Album Review: JONTEKNIK – The Satellites of Substance

  1. Pingback: Album Review: JONTEKNIK – The Satellites of Substance | Shaun Kelly Music·

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