- Throughout his musical career as Solvent, man-behind-the-moniker Jason Amm has always worn his heart on his synthesizer keys, crafting delicately nostalgic synth pop with just a touch of dance floor groove. His latest full-length release, Subject to Shift, is his first in nearly six years.
As the title makes plain, Shift indicates a change in sound for Solvent. The emotive yearning in "Loss For Words," the first single, hearkens back to previous melancholic favorites like "Wish," but adds more of a human touch, with his sentimental vocals left relatively untouched. And then there's the unexpected acidic touch that weaves into 133 charged BPMs in "Formulate," as Amm's familiar robotic voice again returns.
Perhaps it's just a coincidence that the beautiful "A Product of the Process" shares a similar melody to Simple Minds' "The American." But layered with bowel-shaking bass drops and surgical handclaps, there's an increased complexity at work here, updating the backwards-leaning sounds. The unabashed synth pop of "Don't Forget to Phone" is as much homage to the '80s as we've seen from Solvent, while the harsh hissing menace of "Take Me Home" and sinister minor key freakout "No One Should Be Living Here" prominently displays Amm's industrial side more clearly than ever before.
Perhaps all of these differing directions best explain the album. While there's plenty of the expected on Subject to Shift, Solvent traverses more beauty and more noise, more melody and more menace. Maybe there were more shifts planned among the tracks that ultimately didn't make the album cut—like his collaboration with Adam Killing from Kill Memory Crash. But ultimately, Subject to Shift's strength isn't in what it does. There's nothing incredibly new or inventive here. It's in how he does it, dissolving caustic elements and creating a new solution of beauty and warmth from the coldest of sounds.
01. Elevator Up (Intro)
02. Loss for Words
04. A Product of the Process
05. Unknown Caller
06. Don't Forget to Phone
07. No One Should Be Living Here
08. Life-Size Image
09. Take Me Home
10. Caught a Glimpse
12. Echo on Your Voice
13. Red and Metal