Saturday, 10 October 2009

Peel Legends on Dandelion Radio: Solex

Peel Legends: Solex

Solex – A French carburettor manufacturer
Solex – A California-based manufacturer of construction equipment
Solex – An Australian electronics supplier

If you have more time on your hands than you really should, you can quite easily find dozens of things named Solex. But what I find most reassuring is that, typing the word into Google, the top link reads: Official site with information on Elisabeth Esselink, pop artist.

This is a rare example of the world getting its priorities right.

In Elisabeth Esselink’s case, I don’t even mind the rather suspect term ‘pop artist’ because it fits her Solex project rather well. I’ve found myself putting on Solex CDs in those awkward moments when you really can’t find anything else that fits your mood. Her music is something to which normal rules don’t apply. The cut and paste she applies to sound collages doesn’t work the same way as when other people do roughly the same thing. A Solex rhythm may take from other rhythmic sources, but sounds unlike anything else.

‘Quick Step & Hard Bop’ is my favourite Solex album. This is predictable in the sense that it is the only album to yield festive fifty entries, two in fact. But it also showcases Solex’s unique appeal in a way no other collection quite does. Despite this, if I were to award stars or ratings to Solex’s work (something which I never do, so I’m not really sure why I’m even writing this, except that it makes the point, which is…) I couldn’t actually bring myself to award any of her other albums any less than this one.

This may seem bizarre, even paradoxical. To which I would say, welcome to the world of Solex. It’s a great place to be. So good, I spend a few weeks here every year and, despite the unpredictable nature of what is here, whenever I return I always get the same feelings from it. Solex is emotionally reassuring, despite being jarring and extreme. Its experience is never intense, and at its heart is a playfulness that is rarely a feature of truly great music. The rules aren’t so much different here, as absent.

Solex recorded four Peel sessions between 1998 and 2002. Now, in memory of John Peel on the fifth anniversary of his passing, she has contributed to part one of my Dandelion Radio show an exclusive live track (‘Reve’) which is characteristically Solex-like in the sense that it is different from any other Solex recording I’ve heard. Solex is like a story that keeps getting added to but is nevertheless the same, well-loved story with every additional page. It’s great that my Dandelion show can now add a very short page to that story.

Hear this exclusive Solex track on my show at It’s in part one of a two-part Peel Legends special that also includes exclusive sessions from Calvin Party and Trembling Blue Stars.

And find out more about Solex at You can safely ignore all the sites dealing with construction equipment, internet plug-ins, electronics and carburettors. Elisabeth Esselink’s Solex is a necessary part of life; these are not.

Mark W

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