solex - band photo

photo: robert lagendijk

Everything you know about Solex remains true: The one-woman juggernaut otherwise known as Elisabeth Esselink creates her percolating rock tunes out of samples and loops; in her spare time, she runs a record shop in Amsterdam; and she’s a blazing wit whose music, lyrics and song titles betray a cutting sense of humor.

The Laughing Stock of Indie Rock, Solex’s first new album since 2001’s Low Kick and Hard Bop, thus provides continuity, but there are also quite a few new tricks up the proverbial Solex sleeve. Expect to hear live instrumentation, male vocals and a record-closing space jam that extends nearly seven minutes on the fourth full-length from Solex (the first for The Arena Rock Recording Company).

So, what has Ms. Esselink been doing for the past three years? ‘I’ve been touring a bit’, she explains. ‘Plus, I did a collaboration with a Dutch group called The Maarten Altena Ensemble. I made a piece that was meant to be played live with 25 cell phones. I also did sound for some Dutch scientific TV programs. Stuff like...when a little boy would hear Niagra Falls.’

Such cleverness carries over to The Laughing Stock of Indie Rock, which kicks off with the rollicking, horn-laced ‘Yadda Yadda Yadda No. 1’, then moves through other amusingly titled, intricately crafted songs such as the loping, laid-back ‘Fold Your Hands Child You Walk Like An Egyptian’, of which Esselink quips, ‘I imagined Stuart Murdoch (of Belle & Sebastian) in a line dance with The Bangles.’ For many of the songs, the well-known sample manipulator recorded guitar, drum and bass parts, then spliced them into memorable melodies, jolting rhythms and irresistible grooves.

Esselink provides a range of vocals herself, singing, half-talking or crooning as the mood dictates but there’s also deep-voiced accompaniment by a man on some tracks although his name and origins are murky. Who is he? ’An Australian guy that I've never met’, says Esselink. ‘The only thing I know about him is that he's about six feet tall and incredibly sexy. After he'd heard some Solex music, he sent me a disc with only his vocals. It was him singing the entire ‘White Album’ by the Beatles.’

Whoever he is, Esselink puts him to good use on The Laughing Stock of IndieRock. The album’s finale, ‘You’ve Got Me’, is an otherworldly duet that begins with drums and slide guitar, then blossoms into a dreamy soundscape that evolves into a riff-driven stomp. It caps a stellar comeback effort that will thrill old Solex fans and attract new converts, all of whom will wonder at how she creates such intriguing sounds and fantastic hooks.

How does she do it? ‘I don't really work on it’, Esselink says. ‘Every now and then I get lucky’.

reviews for this artist

"Original, enthusiastic, and intelligent. A stunning talent"
-- TimeOut NY

"A unique collection of beats, samples, and voice. Evocative and wildly creative."
-- AllMusic Guide

"Different from anything you or your friends have."
-- Transworld Skateboarding