Supernature, Solenoid’ fourth full-length, departs from Orac’ recent glitch-laden offerings with a refreshing exploration of “old-school’ analog sounds, specifically synths that gleefully glisten, sputter, bleep, and squeal by turn. The 12-song collection mixes a generous share of dance material, often acidy in nature, with David Chandler (aka Solenoid and DJ Brokenwindow) scattering brief noise experiments (of the many such interludes, â€œSpitbugsâ€ resembles a synthesized school of cawing crows transformed into thrumming sludge, â€œWiwxaia IIIâ€ is an experiment in cello sonics, and â€œThe Archivistâ€ a schizoid soundscape outro accompanied by a chattering drum machine) amongst more conventional club tracks (apparently, Supernature is a concept album with each track centered on ideas like nanotechnology and genetic engineering).
But while it deploys a 303-based synth sound, the album isn’ acid technoâ€”Chandler’ tracks meander a little too waywardly for that and, furthermore, his preference for simple drum machine beats over complex programming gives the album a more innocent auraâ€”think Metropolis, not Blade Runner. Of the more developed pieces, three in particular stand out: the pulsating electro opener â€œDrack Soulâ€ which reveals a Kraftwerk influence in the mournful melodies that float over the driving base; â€œBezoar Tides,â€ a propulsive slice of acid synth-funk wherein Solenoid layers what seems a battalion of synths to generate a swarming, amplified mass; and, best of all, â€œThighHigh,â€ an acidy bit of steamy electro-funk ignited by a bleepy five-note theme that’s frankly irresistible. It’s worth noting, however, that Solenoid’ style isn’ old, it’s simply that the “clean’ non-processed synths and drums sounds give it a retrograde feel. In short, instrumentally the disc resurrects an “80s sound (â€œProtein / Lemuria,â€ for instance, could be slotted onto Tangerine Dream’ Phaedra without anyone batting an eye) but its compositional sensibility teleports it into the presentâ€”hence the omnipresent tension with which Solenoid’ music is permeated. Finally, to his credit, Chandler’ spirited collection is just the right lengthâ€”there’ definitely enough here but not so much that your interest is exhausted by album’ end.