Gene Tellem – Mind Reader

Gene Tellem
Mind Reader
WOLF Music
Montréal, QC
RIYL: D. Tiffany; DJ Dial-On; Gabriel Rei

Seeing Gene Tellem at MUTEK in 2019 was both a highlight of the festival, and without question a highlight of my music writing career. The Montréal-based producer lit up the room over the course of her set opening for Chicago luminary Jlin. My notes from that night recount the experience in point form: “superb,” “fluid rhythms,” and “transcendent.”

Her second release with the U.K.-based label WOLF Music brings much of those same danceable instincts, and the intuition in regard to energy and atmosphere that I found so enthralling that night two years ago. Lead track “Ain’t Got Everything” grooves steadily right out the gate, with shimmering synths creating a counterpoint of treacly stasis to the driving beat, irresistible bassline, and vocal earworm. Connecticut-based veteran producer Jenifa Mayanja homes in on the track’s atmospheric tension for her remix on side B, letting it build before cutting it with some grounded acoustic percussion. 

The EP’s two other tracks also bring the heat, with the chopped vocals and urgent tempo of ‘Mind Readers’ challenging the compelling bassline to keep up, while the victory lap of “2nd Time Around” closes out the minor-key introspection of the three prior tracks with an all-out party. Though it’ll be a while still before we can all hear these songs properly in a club, this cerebral mix of four great tunes gives listeners plenty to get lost in. 

– Michael Rancic