Photo by Kyle Johnson
Michael Benjamin Lerner has really struggled with his music in the past. Under the name of Telekinesis, the Seattle artist released his second album–2011’s 12 Desperate Straight Lines–after months of hard living. Breakups, broken-down vans, and a busted inner-ear took its toll, and it came out in the music, which he largely recorded by himself. When it came time to do the follow-up, he couldn’t bear the solitude, so he called on producer Jim Eno. For an artist who’s used to working alone, it was nerve-wracking at first. “It’s a big leap of faith for both of the people involved with making a record,” Lerner told the Village Voice. “It’s one of the most vulnerable environments you could put yourself into, the studio: you’re baring your soul to a tape machine and everything is scrutinized and microscopic.”
But Lerner and Eno make a great team. For starters, they’re both primarily drummers, and they immediately bonded over how to shape the rhythms. The relaxed atmosphere of Eno’s Public Hi-Fi Studios also allowed Lerner to stretch out musically. Dormarion–named for the street Public Hi-Fi sits on here in Austin–is balanced perfectly between rock and pop. The melodies are crisp and bright, but underneath is some metronomic muscle.
The partnership between Lerner and Eno is immediately apparent on album highlight “Ghosts And Creatures.” In the studio, Eno didn’t like the original drumbeat, so he suggested a drum machine, and it completely transformed the song. “When you’re doing everything yourself you start to lose perspective on that stuff,” says Lerner. “He basically came up with that drum machine part — it made the song how it is today, and I’m really proud of how it is and I couldn’t have done that without him. It’s nice to know it’s a true collaboration.” And when Lerner stopped by Studio 1A recently, the collaborations kept coming. The touring version of Telekinesis turned “Ghosts And Creatures” into a wholly new creature altogether.