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      Telekinesis in Portland


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      May 2, 2019

      Thursday   9:00 PM

      3939 North Mississippi Avenue
      Portland, Oregon 97227

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      Telekinesis

      with SONTALK
      If Michael Benjamin Lerner has given us nothing more than an opportunity to nudge the wordeffluxion into the common vernacular, it is still a crowning cultural achievement. To trulyappreciate this minor linguistic marvel, you need to say the word out louddo this right now,wherever you are; its worth the stares. It comes from the Latin term meaning to flow, andpronouncing it is the closest you will ever come to feeling like youre in an episode of Star Trek.But he has given us much more than that. The fifth full-length album hes recorded as Telekinesis isperfect, unfussy power popromantic and hopeful and skittish and fresh and familiar, with hooksin all the right places. He called the album Effluxion because he too found the word a little alienwhen he first heard it in passing, but it also captured the spirit in which the album was made. Ilooked it up and it felt really indicative of the way this record ended up working, he says.Everything just started kind of flowing out.After Lerner largely traded guitars and drums for moodier synthesizers and drum machines on2015s Ad Infinitummore OMD than GBVScottish indie-pop gods Teenage Fanclub invitedLerner on board as a touring member in 2017. In addition to this being genie-lamp wish fulfillmentfor a devoted acolyte (see: Telekinesis cover of The Concept and also pretty much everythingTelekinesis has ever recorded), playing those songs every night with his heroes brought him back toknown pleasures.When I got home, not only was I shit-hot on guitar and keyboard, I was like, God, I fucking love thismusic, Lerner says. The one criticism Ive gotten throughout my career is that Im not trying to doanything inventive, and my response is always, Im not trying to do that at all. What youre hearingis me regurgitating my favorite records.Ef luxion is, in the purest way, a back-to-basics albumnot just in its reaffirmation of the sound andstyle that made Lerner an indie wunderkind a decade ago at age 22, but in the way it was created.Using the same now-discontinued MacBook microphone he used to record his earliest tracks, heholed up in the basement of his West Seattle home and put the album together piece by piece overthe past two years, playing every instrument. While previous albums had former Death Cab forCutie guitarist Chris Wallawho discovered and championed Telekinesis demosand Spoons JimEno serving as producers and sounding boards and sidemen and general voices of authority andexperience, Lerner wanted to do this one entirely on his own.I think Ive always had the knowledge, but I never had the confidence, he says. If something isfeeling really good to me, then I dont care if its lo-fi or if theres a bad note somewhere. And thatshow I felt when I made those first records. But this is the first time I can say its very much my ownsingular vision.Lifted by a buoyant oh-whoa chorus, Like Nothing catalyzed and crystallized this consciouslyretro process for Lerner, but the songs themselves dont feel of any time in particular, no matterhow transparent they may be about their inspiration. Raised by a Beatles-obsessed father who wasa Seattle DJ for 30 years and educated as a teen at Paul McCartneys Liverpool Institute forPerforming Arts, Lerner wears his influences on his striped t-shirt sleeve; Suburban StreetlightDrunk proudly boosts the piano from Band on the Runs Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five.Of course, theres nothing unique about having been influenced by the Beatles; its about how thatinfluence is manifested. Quiet-loud-quiet first single Set a Course and Cut the QuickwhichLerner considers one of the best songs hes ever writtenare so naturally infectious you somehowalready know them. More than mere pastiche, Telekinesis songs are specific enough to paint vividdetail but universal enough to be about your life.All of which goes back to the idea of effluxion. Ten years into what will be a long career destined tobe studied and mined the way he studies and mines those of the bands he loves, Michael BenjaminLerner is as much a medium of power pop as a manufacturer. Telekinesis has internalized thescience of catchiness and understands on a cellular level what makes certain kinds of songs evokecertain kinds of chemical reactions. Hooks flow in, hooks flow out.

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