Solex – Solex Vs. The Hitmeister, Pick Up, Low Kick And Hard Bop and The Laughing Stock Of Indie Rock
I continue to write about fantastic finds from a magic list of CDs. What is so interesting is that this list is over 10 years old and I only recently rediscovered it. The list is made up of suggestions given to me by my musically enlightened pal Craig L. and from it I have been fortunate to discover Stina Nordenstam, Big Stick, The Now Time Delegation and the subject of today’s entry, Solex. Despite being a decade late to the party with these bands they are all great inclusions in my collection.
Solex is Dutch singer Elisabeth Esselink. As the story goes, while providing vocals for a local Amsterdam band she began work on her solo project with a unique approach. Instead of assembling a new band she gathered up the albums that had not sold in the record store she owned, purchased a sampler at a record auction she attended and set up a makeshift recording studio in the shop’s basement. Cut, paste, sample, chop, loop, sing and presto her demos were complete.
This process gave her music a unique feel. Partly it has a lounge vibe, there are a few austere downtempo tracks, a noticeable world music influence is detectable and at times a loose jazzy feel is copped due to the use of saxophone and clarinet. Over the course of 1998-2004 and the release of her first four albums which are represented here, her style and approach broadened. She began sampling and manipulating instruments she recorded from live bands (most without their knowledge) as well as television commercials, jingles and old TV show themes. Eventually she added in more music played and recorded specifically for her work. This growth feels like a transition from audio collage to more structured song frameworks and semi traditional modes of music. These CDs represent the first half of her catalog which extended for another decade into 2013 before Solex fell quiet. If forced to categorize her sound I would say it was closest to trip-hop but in truth Solex is its own entity, a complex patchwork of disparate parts that thankfully and enjoyably can’t be labeled.