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Solex | Low Kick and Hard Bop (Matador)
You've got to admire her style. As a fellow itinerant record shop worker, the daily confrontation with CDs that have seemingly crawled from the bowels of some depraved Euro Hell can feel like being the unwilling victim of some extreme torture scene from Hellraiser that was deemed too brutal for public consumption. One longs for deliverance from this sonic cesspool, preferably acted out in an exceptionally violent manner. Elisabeth Esselink has found another way to combat The Horror. Snippets of the world's worst records snuggle up alongside snatches of radio, television and street sounds in one irrepressibly upbeat sound collage. No intellectual irony for this girl, though. The technique may be different, but this recombination of sources is resolutely POP (albeit extremely surrealistic pop). This outing for her alter ego of Solex continues the manifesto of accessible and catchy melodies sitting alongside crazed cut and paste musical reconstruction. The overall effect is akin to the work of the Residents on 'Third Reich and Roll,' a twisted reinterpretation of 1960's pop hits and garage classics. Whole songs are rendered almost unrecognisable with bizarre arrangements. But this was not conceived out of a hatred of pop music. The Residents and Solex share a love of popular music but look at the style from another perspective. At its best, the music of Solex can be as uplifting as conventionally crafted hits. The album is an eclectic mixture of styles and genres. Esselink moves effortlessly through the easy listening Troggs/Kinks riffage of Honey (Amersterdam is not LA), via the dubby, piano led skank of Shoot Shoot! before returning to the rock and roll basics of the unlikely Eddie Cochran/Martin Denny rave up that is Comely Row. All this and choc full of hooks too! The vocals themselves nod to the great traditions of the girl groups such as the Shangri-Las and The Ronettes as well as coming over all Euro chic on Not a Hoot. A bit like 'Nice Mover' era Gina X supported by a biscuit tin percussion ensemble. Imagine, if you will, a parallel universe in which William Burroughs has been made head of programming at wonderful Radio One. I guess that planet Solex can't be too far removed, with her juxtaposition of high and low art, of cut up and pure pop. Forget the patronising smirking of Hoxton trendies, playing records "so bad they're good." Solex has the true Midas touch.
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002