Solex with DÅlek and Lullaby Baxter's Great Balancing Act at the Comfort Zone (480 Spadina), Monday (November 5). $8. 416-975-0909. Rating: NNNNN
In the battle of analog vs. electronic, Solex (Elisabeth Esselink) champions both sides.
She's a hardcore sampleholic with an affection for live performance, who does her thing in the basement studio of her Amsterdam used record store -- chopping, splicing and EFXing samples together, and then adding chipper sing-song melodies with limited-sense wordage on top.
She's been playing in bands for years and she's a record store proprietor, making her someone who knows a hell of a lot about music.
But it was simply her cold-call mailing of a demo that landed a record deal with Matador.
"Gerard Cosley (co-president) of Matador called me a couple of weeks after I sent out the demos, said he really liked my songs and gave me a plane ticket to come to New York," explains Esselink en route to Enschede in the Netherlands. She hits the Comfort Zone on Monday (November 5).
"It was a little bit like a blind date. A limo picked me up at the airport and took me to a hotel. An hour later, Gerard called me and we met and just talked about music.
"I was really surprised and skeptical that anyone would listen to it, but I'm glad it was Matador 'cause I have quite a few records from them in my collection."
In 1998, Esselink released her first album, Solex Vs. The Hitmeister, a collection of songs consisting mostly of samples from bargain-bin records, to an unsuspecting, enthusiastic public. She promoted it via a North American tour opening for Cibo Matto.
On her last two albums, 1999's Pick Up and the new self-recorded, -mixed and -produced Low Kick And Hard Bop, Esselink took to making bootlegs of live shows and extracting samples from them. She mixes songs with songs and bands with bands, though you'd never know it.
"I like to record the guitar and bass, but when it comes to bootlegs, I really try to avoid paying clearances," explains Esselink. "If I had to pay, I'd be paying a lot, so I mix them really good."
Although her last two albums are similar in sentiment and technique, Low Kick And Hard Bop has a distinctive sound. The songs are more fleshed out, elaborate and analogish -- she's definitely mastering the craft. She's also added some new tricks.
"I think the older I get, I become more and more open to any genre and style of music," she says.
"I listen to a lot of hiphop, but no matter how hard I try, I can't rap, so I sampled voices from the television to try and get that rap effect. Even though it didn't quite catch, I still really like how it sounds."