Low Kick and Hard Bop

by Ben Varkentine

10 September 2001


Interesting Noises

Phoebe: I loved it! It was so moving. Oh, plus it’s just, it’s so different from the stuff you usually hear.

Chandler: You mean like, music?
Friends, “The One Where Chandler Crosses The Line”, written by Adam Chase

cover art


Low Kick and Hard Bop

US: 11 Sep 2001

You know, it’s a rule of thumb that any CD you have to read about to appreciate isn’t that good in the first place. I listened to this album the first time through merely thinking it was a not-very masterful “alternative” album. After reading the hype sheet and Solex’s entry in the All-Music Guide, I suppose I’m impressed that she put the record together from found sounds and such. But there seems to be little craft in the results; Solex hasn’t found much art in her noises. They lack the dense rush of a good sample jam, the amazing eclecticism that keeps a keen ear tingling with excitement.

Maybe it’s that the mix-and-match technique, at this point, is fucking old. Or maybe it’s just that I am. I approve of this type of record, but I need a little more to listen to than interesting noises. I feel a pronouncement coming on, so here it is: Making interesting noises and making music are not the same thing. A good record can actually be made of either, but this is the kind of compromise between the two that leaves no one happy. And me, at the moment, I prefer music anyway.

In retrospect, it comes as no surprise to learn that Solex is Elisabeth Esselink, a Dutch record store owner. This sounds exactly like what you would expect a record store owner to make if she owned a tape recorder, a sampler, and some time to spare. The idea seems to be the aural equivalent of junk sculpture. Ska-influenced “songs” made up of dissonance and borrowed majesty. It’s percolating with sound effects in everything including the kitchen sing arrangements.

Listening to Solex’s Low Kick and Hard Bop, it helps not to be expecting music.


We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.


//Mixed media

20 Questions: Nashville Singer-Songwriter Natalie Hemby

// Sound Affects

"Natalie Hemby's Puxico is a standout debut from a songwriter who has been behind the scenes for over a decade.

READ the article