Solex: Low Kick and Hard Bop

Ben Varkentine


Low Kick and Hard Bop

Label: Matador
US Release Date: 2001-09-11

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

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.

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