John Tejada's mother and father -- a renowned opera singer and a classical concert pianist and conductor, respectively -- probably had few doubts that their son would spend his life making music. But when they set him in front of a piano at the ripe age of four, it's doubtful that either knew he would turn out to be a techno producer. Tejada's earliest exposure to sampling and electronic music came from listening to the legendary L.A. hip-hop station KDAY in the early '80s, and by the age of 11, he had his first set of turntables. Initially mesmerized by the sticky-fingered antics of the station's DJ's, he soon found his head bobbing to the electro-sounds of Kraftwerk and Detroit techno-pioneers Model 500 that occasionally popped into the mix. Tejada started producing his own techno tracks in 1991, and he began releasing minimalist cuts in 1994. He has issued material on nearly a dozen labels since 1994, and in the process has become known for a "tech-house" sound that combines the shimmering sound design aspects of techno with the more organic emotions of house music. The Matrix of Us
, his latest full-length effort for Defocus Records, is quite a change of pace. Forsaking techno's four-to-the-floor beats, Tejada uses spotlessly clean breaks on most of the tracks, skipping back and forth between quicker two-step and slower, more pensive hip-hop tempos. Sprightly trickles of keyboard notes and synth blips abound, infusing many of the tracks with a playful, almost childlike sentimentality -- the album as a whole is so genuinely organic and moody that it's hard not to smile and nod while listening. One hopes he'll be brave enough to throw down some of these contemplative grooves before he starts really working the dance floor at Touch on Saturday night.