Supernature, Solenoid’s fourth full-length, departs from Orac’s 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, “Spitbugs” resembles a synthesized school of cawing crows transformed into thrumming sludge, “Wiwxaia III” is an experiment in cello sonics, and “The Archivist” 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’t acid techno—Chandler’s 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 aura—think Metropolis, not Blade Runner. Of the more developed pieces, three in particular stand out: the pulsating electro opener “Drack Soul” which reveals a Kraftwerk influence in the mournful melodies that float over the driving base; “Bezoar Tides,” 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, “ThighHigh,” 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’s style isn’t 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 (“Protein / Lemuria,” for instance, could be slotted onto Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra without anyone batting an eye) but its compositional sensibility teleports it into the present—hence the omnipresent tension with which Solenoid’s music is permeated. Finally, to his credit, Chandler’s spirited collection is just the right length—there’s definitely enough here but not so much that your interest is exhausted by album’s end.