Last June, Solvent released Apples and Synthesizers, an elegant little pop suite that very politely brought the world up to date on all his latest modular synth settings. The only problem with it was that it was a little boring, which albums like that often are. Plenty of people try and wow us with their knob-twist symphonies, and unless there’s something particularly distinctive about them, they come out kind of specialized and geekoid: I’m as into oscillator settings as anyone, but keeping track of whose sine-waves modulate better feels as academic as clocking every garage-rock single to come along. Solvent’s Kraftwerk pulse and peculiar pop sensibility kept the record likeable, but it couldn’t make it all that striking.
Thankfully, there’s also Elevators and Oscillators, an album companion to the LP proper. Solvent’s catalog works like most dance act’s—meditative on the albums, floor-conscious on the singles—and the remakes and remixes collected here deliver on some of those more vivid 12” pleasures. In and around five new songs, a variety of participants put spins on the guy’s singles juice, including three takes each on “For You” and the career-making “My Radio”. And, well: Secondary “companion” though this may be, sonic variety and looser beats let the results pop in a way the album couldn’t.
Germans help, obviously. Alter Ego, for instance, come along to turn “Think Like Us” into a trendily harsh robot-rocker; turned up loud enough, it might be just the thing for 2raumwohnung fans and Daft Punk disappointees. Schneider TM takes things in exactly the opposite direction, remaking “My Radio” as a skittery indie pop song, complete with mutated acoustic guitar plucks, boyish vocals, and a revised indie-kid lyric. Low-country headbanger Legowelt covers the same track with his usual spooky growl, though he doesn’t go nearly as lovably grim as usual; Mitgang Audio remix it with some added electro strut. Lowfish puts a dream-sheen on “For You”, Isan go ahead and make it fully subliminal, and then JDSY come along to beat all with the most arresting thing here—raw non-robot vocals over an gorgeous, chiming build.
Fold in those new Solvent tracks, and it’s a treat for anyone who dug Apples and Synthesizers. Fold them out, and it’d still be a workable comp—a nice, versatile handful of post-electro sounds for those who weren’t quite up for 45 minutes of Solvent’s private time. How excited do you get about hardware?