Don’t think for a moment that as Solvent, Jason Amm hasn’t gotten his share of accolades. Well respected and regarded by many as one of the tenured electronic producers on the up and up, he’s also fought through a share of adversity in creating such hard to pinpoint music. But his music is both a pleasure and a superb blend of beats and melodies that come at you from every direction. It’s never something that might have you begging for more but in pushing forward an invitingly open mix of terrific sounds, it’s a major success.
Take something as darkly presented as “No One Should Be Living Here” and its diminished chords and bubbling basses. Forget that the title alone suggests a haunted home where all its dwellers are lead to unfortunate situations, the array of instruments that are dancing around is unheard of. And it’s an awesome sound for someone that is mostly known for his upbeat 80s pop style; there is nothing even remotely nice about this song. That even for a moment when he comes at you, heart on sleeve, on something like “Loss for Words,” it’s all brilliantly sequenced.
The brief introduction of “Elevator Up (Intro)” is almost what you wish the rest of Solvent’s Subject to Shift sounded like. Its bleepy sweep of precision-labeled synths, its retro-inverted melody that is sprinkled from the sides and on top and its wealthy bridge of synths that are all tightly layered within a thick nest of beeps make for an exceptional opening. But as you slowly come to understand his scope and what exactly he is going for, you understand that the music on this album is much more than just a building of sounds. “Formulate” is fittingly titled in that it’s formula is one of the easiest tricks in the business: dress it up with a manically repetitive beat that will have everyone dancing, decorate it with treatments and atmospherics for good measure and top it off with sing-along lyrics about how “I got you on my mind, make it stop” and you have a club hit. Wide and expansive, this is moving music.
For the longest time, the Zimbabwe-born producer has been both aided and hindered by being categorized as someone who’s too diverse for his own good. Whether it was the fact that his sounds are too deeply rooted in the 80s for the beat-makers to love it, or maybe that his music was just too intelligently melodic for techno fanatics or even just the fact that at times, it’s pop music in all its wonder. But what makes Amm’s music all that more purposeful is just how creatively basking it is: both in its sweep and grandeur. It’s still the kind of electronic music to either simply bop your head to, or just bliss out to, your pick.
And for what you take away from it, it’s simple: a solid collection of electronic sounds that are reliable and consistent. When everyone out there is trying to re-invent themselves and when snobby people (like yours truly) pushes an agenda to get many to change their sounds and grow, there are tried and true methods to many successful acts around. The music on Subject to Shift are positioned well and delivered with a re-assuring amount of premise; in the end, it’s still a varied, fluid, compatible fusion of tremendous sounds.