Telekinesis, ‘Dormarion’ – Album Review
It's hardly rare for solo artists to go by band names, and their aren't really any rules or genre restrictions for the practice, as it can vary from the solo folk of Smog to the experimental country of Phosphorescent to the intricate tapestries of Youth Lagoon. The strangest part of Telekinesis, the recording moniker of Michael Benjamin Lerner, is how much the music sounds like it was made by a band. Sure, most of those other aforementioned musicians employ a multitude of instruments, but with Telekinesis, the songs would be, well, fun for a proper group to play. This is not the work of an isolated genius or a troubled recluse. It comes across like too much of a good time to have been made alone.
This is both good and bad. The acoustic 12-bar-blues of opener 'Power Lines,' later to be drenched in distortion and power-pop bliss, is indicative of the whole of Telekinesis' aesthetic and likely the reason they've found a home on Merge, whose founder plays in Superchunk, Telekinesis' primary touchstone. And while Superchunk writes the kind of wide-eyed and cleverly accessible tunes that never seem to go out of style, the music also recalls Jimmy Eat World, whose emo-ish pop punk has gone out of style. Peering through this lens, 'Dormarion' can sound dated.
The album's most undeniable tunes, regardless of which lens you choose, are the mid-tempo, '90s-embracing tracks that Lerner seems to always have under his sleeve. 'You Take It Slowly' sounds like Built to Spill if they recorded with Rick Rubin, while 'Ghosts and Creatures' adds some post-Radiohead texture to modernize the affecting melody. Both could wind up soundtracking a movie trailer. They're cinematic in their nostalgia, more technicolor than sepia.
Apparently, the album's title refers to the street in Texas where Lerner recorded. He discovered that the word doesn't have a meaning and can't be traced to anything else in our language. This is weird to hear, but there are analogies one might draw to his music. Lerner writes songs that, above all, are enjoyable, but he does so as if he's blazing new territory as original as the word "Dormarion." The reality that is as much as 'Dormarion' is fun and pleasant, it's not new or anything that we haven't heard for the last 25 years, just like the word "Dormarion" is probably just a phonetic representation of some word spoken by the tribe that once inhabited that land in Austin. Lerner has said that he "liked the way 'Dormarion'" sounded. At the very least, we can say the same about his music.