Music

Solvent: Elevators + Oscillators

Dan Nishimoto

Jason's addendum: odds and sods, or remixes and revisits?"


Solvent

Elevators + Oscillators

Label: Ghostly International
US Release Date: 2005-04-05
UK Release Date: 2005-04-01
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

Less than a year after the release of the enjoyable Apples + Synthesizers, Jason "Solvent" Amm follows up with Elevators + Oscillators, a collection of remixes, reinterpretations and revisits. The culled material includes: selections from his Radio Ga Ga series of 12"s, like-minded peers' covers, and new tracks. For being an album of addendum, the result is surprisingly cohesive and consistent. Guests seldom stray from Amm's warm and melodic approach, hardly fraying the original fabric, while his own contributions sound like A+S leftovers (and that's a good thing). In fact, the compilation spins like a highlights reel from the master take. Though hardly expository, E+O modestly embraces Solvent fans before moving on to the next act.

Amm establishes this familiar tone by debuting the track "Wish", which runs the listener through his patented Numan-filtered vocals, enrapturing bass, and subtle drums. Structured like A+S single "My Radio", "Wish" also taps a similar well of tenderness as the vocal wheezes, "Night falls, the stars are bright / I wish you were here tonight." This natural imagery, in addition to completely vintage instrumentation, places the song in a recognizable atmosphere. With only slight rhythmic variation and layering does Amm express contemporaneity. In this manner, he invites listeners both green and blue by conceding considerable ground on their behalf.

Appropriately, the two remixes that follow chart like territory. Perspect's Mitgang Audio remix of "My Radio" (from Radio Ga Ga, v.2) and Lowfish's remix of For You (from Radio Ga Ga, v.1) both use Solvent's base as a map for their slight tweaks. "My Radio" moves from a loose 'lectric pop jaunt to a jittering 'lectric pop march by featuring less hi-hat action, twittering tones, and greater emphasis on the one and two beats. "For You"'s up-and-pause rhythm is maintained, albeit now with skittering and panning snare hits and buoyed by straight kicks and hits. The only marked change in both approaches is that the cleaner production value is not as romantic or nostalgic. At its worst the blippy approach feels clinical, but neither intrudes on Solvent's ethos; instead, they contribute compatible pieces.

E+O plays like a Solvent record even when the remakes take a greater sonic left turn, because they still adhere to Amm's blueprint. Legowelt prefers bitterness to nostalgia on "Radio", pounding the tune to the march of a hollow, wooden snare and snarling, "When I looked into my radio / You always played the same old crap." The runaway chase theme feels like Blade Runner taking the Midnight Express, or simply another point of view to the original's melismanic Moroderisms. Similarly, Alter Ego's interpretation of "Think Like Us" embraces the harshness of the original's vocal by boosting the growl with a hard stomp. Unfortunately, in this case the take is an excessive drag at nearly seven minutes, especially when the rest of the disc's works clock in around four minutes; E+O is not meant to consist of extended dance-floor workouts, but dance pop numbers. In this manner, Isan and Schneider TM successfully balance traditional songwriting and club aesthetics on their respective mixes. The former comes clean on "For You" with pitched up drip drops, creating a crystalline tone countered with powerfully warm bass tones. The latter's live take of "My Radio" replaces synths with stuttering rhythms, pump organ loops and hiccupping effects, bringing Postal Service within reach of Solvent.

Amm's quasi-instrumentals round out the record mostly as transition pieces. "Radio Goo Goo" plays off the treble of Lowfish's mix and adds chilly ice drop polyrhythms, while "Interlude" aptly cools out the set after Alter Ego's cardio-charger. The two remaining additions are more thoroughly composed song pieces, and tie the artist with his Yaz and OMD roots firmly: "Devices and Strategies" with its shooting Korg stars and moondrop keys, and "Apples and Oranges" with its Roland kicks and sputters underneath warping moog lines. While singularly interesting as incidental music, the tracks hold the disparate mixes together.

E+O is a welcome footnote by offering likeminded yet refreshing takes on A+S. Amm exerts steady presence, though mainly to create a sense of coherence in the project. Perhaps inadvertently, the Solventness of E+O also allows a first-time listener an opportunity to infer many stylistic qualities of the analog addict. With just a little effort and attention, Amm gracefully logs another work that should be of interest of fans and the curious.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

9
Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane
Music

Mobley Laments the Evil of "James Crow" in the US

Austin's Mobley makes upbeat-sounding, soulful pop-rock songs with a political conscience, as on his latest single, "James Crow".

Music

Jordan Tice's "Bad Little Idea" Is a Satirical Spin on Dire Romance (premiere)

Hawktail's Jordan Tice impresses with his solo work on "Bad Little Idea", a folk rambler that blends bluesy undertones with satiric wit.

Music

Composer Ilan Eshkeri Discusses His Soundtrack for the 'Ghost of Tsushima' Game

Having composed for blockbuster films and ballet, Ilan Eshkeri discusses how powerful emotional narratives and the opportunity for creative freedom drew him to triple-A video game Ghost of Tsushima.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Film

Love and Cinema: The Ruinous Lives in Żuławski's L'important c'est d'aimer

Żuławski's world of hapless also-rans in L'important C'est D'aimer is surveyed with a clear and compassionate eye. He has never done anything in his anarchic world by the halves.

Books

On Bruce Springsteen's Music in Film and TV

Bruce Springsteen's music in film and television captured author Caroline Madden's imagination. She discuses her book, Springsteen as Soundtrack, and other things Springsteen in this interview.

Music

Alt-pop's merci, mercy Warns We May "Fall Apart"

Australian alt-pop singer-songwriter, merci, mercy shares a video for her catchy, sophisticated anthem, "Fall Apart".

Film

Tears in Rain: 'Blade Runner' and Philip K. Dick's Legacy in Film

Blade Runner, and the work of Philip K. Dick, continues to find its way into our cinemas and minds. How did the visions of a paranoid loner become the most relevant science fiction of our time?

Music

London Indie-Poppers the Motive Impress on "You" (premiere)

Southwest London's the Motive concoct catchy, indie-pop earworms with breezy melodies, jangly guitars, and hooky riffs, as on their latest single "You".

Books

Vigdis Hjorth's 'Long Live the Post Horn!' Breathes Life into Bureaucratic Anxiety

Vigdis Hjorth's Long Live the Post Horn! is a study in existential torpor that, happily, does not induce the same condition in the reader.

Music

Konqistador and HanHan Team for Darkwave Hip-Hop on "Visaya"

Detroit-based electronic/industrial outfit, Konqistador team with Toronto hip-hopper HanHan for "Visaya", a song that blends darkwave and rap into an incendiary combination.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.