My introduction to Solus3 was through Lunar Dunes, a UK based space rock band who have released two excellent albums – Lunar Dunes (2007) and Galaxsea (2011). Solus3 consists of four members of Lunar Dunes, and while Solus3 are deep in space, they are very different from Lunar Dunes.
Corner Of The World is the second Solus3 album and opens with the 10 minute Unfold. What a strange and fascinating blend of musical elements! There’s a Dub foundation, along with spacey atmospherics and effects, didge-like throat singing, a steady lead and groove by harp (of all instruments), trumpet, and vocals from Krupa MaNomay (female) that are simultaneously haunting and sultry. It all comes together in ways that a very difficult to describe, and that’s a good thing because these folks are doing something that to my ears is quite different. Bassist Ian Blackaby, who is in both bands, describes Solus3 as a kind of Post-Punk development of the Dunes, like Lunar Dunes without the guitar player and the harp taking the central role.
The fun continues on Tricked By A Monster, which is more of a structured, accessible jazz-Dub-in-space song, though there’s no shortage of adventurous cosmic embellishments by the trumpet and effects, plus guitar from guest Jemma Freeman and Larry Whelan from Lunar Dunes contributes keyboards and saxophone. I love the combination of Dub-bass, floating harp leads and vocals. Corner Of The World is similar and I really like the section where the harp actually jams while the drums rock out. Lollardy is a lysergic experimental space-jazz-lullaby that blends harp, trumpet, off-kilter percussion and what sounds like a bagpipe trying to be an Arabian call-to-prayer horn. When Porn Jam came on I instantly recognized it, though it took me a minute to make the connection with the track Moon Bathing, from the Lunar Dunes album Galaxsea, which this is a re-working of, being a trippy, hip-shaking lounge-jazz-in-space groover. Reich is an instrumental with cool looped effects and cosmic keys, synths and harp, all zipping along playing a repetitive and slowly developing pattern. After a few minutes the music transitions to gentle drifting lullaby mode, though it quickly starts to edge back toward the more intense opening theme. Finally, the album wraps up with the 10+ minute Pumori, a hypnotic trip that takes us to a dark, smoky, surreal alien lounge and features Krupa’s most soulful vocals of the set.
This is very interesting and mesmerizing music which will appeal to those who fancy a creative mix of psychedelia, Dub and jazz, though these descriptions don’t begin to characterize what this off-the-beaten-path band are about. And speaking of Dub, the latest Solus3 album is titled Corner Of The Dub. It’s described as “a half sibling to Corner Of The World” and features remixes by various artists of tracks from the Corner Of The World album.
We get two Tricked By A Monster treatments, one by The Krell, but the more interesting of which is by Gary Langan (Art Of Noise), which adds more effects and puts interesting freakout emphasis on the guitar. Dr. Das adds a more classic Dub vibe to Reich, without straying too far from the original, and I like the brief scorching effects. Shugmonkey injects a quirky, whimsical edge into Lollardy. Corner Of The World is another tune that gets a double dose of remix surgery, but they’re both by the same artist – Dub Colossus. He Dubs it up and adds lots of spaced out effects on his Firfir Remix, and does the same on his King Krar Remix, though it sounds like he focuses more on grooves for the later. Eccodek is all about atmosphere in their treatment of Unfold. There’s a second Unfold entry, this time by Phil Meadley who takes it 360 degrees from Eccodek into hyper-kinetic electro-robot-dance territory. Gianni Mantice takes the most liberties of just about anyone with his manipulation of Porn Jam and comes out with one of my favorites of the set. It’s got lots of wild space effects, heavy grooves, plus a cool and strange Arabian styled male vocal. The one track that doesn’t take on a single song from Corner Of The World is Monster Mori Remix, a nearly 10 minute piece that the promo sheet describes as “a Frankenstein monster of prog dubtronica built out of our spare parts”, so I’m assuming it’s a remix glom of various Solus3 tracks, and indeed I recognize a lot of it.
In summary, Corner Of The Dub is a fun listen when experienced alongside Corner Of The World. But I’d not like someone to hear it as their introduction to Solus3. Start with Corner Of The World and the band’s excellent debut, The Sky Above The Roof.
For more information you can visit the Solus3 web site at: http://solus-3.bandcamp.com
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz