Agoria: Solarized

Solarized serves up fresh samplings of modern classic house by Sébastien Devaud (aka Agoria), one of the key figures associated with the French electronic scene. The release complements vocal and instrumental versions of the title cut, with the former featuring a vocal by Scalde that's as breezy as the cut itself, with the also unusual “Altre Voci.” 

“Solarized” begins with a minute-long intro of staccato acoustic piano patterns that's certainly ear-catching and unexpected. In a smoothly-executed transition, the first episode slowly withdraws and a percussion-heavy house rhythm takes over that's soon joined by Scalde's languorous vocal. Floating serenely over Devaud's insistent groove, the semi-high pitch of the voice gives Scalde's singing an almost androgynous quality which, surprisingly, suits the classic house thrust of the track's rhythms. The “dub” version strips away the vocal which brings into sharper relief the track's seaside (read: Ibiza) feel, a vibe enhanced by the prominent acoustic percussion sounds. In “Altre Voci,” a 4/4 kick drum and rubbery bass pulse lay down a tribal house groove over which a ghostly classical choir moans like a howling windstorm and a solo female voice wails in apparent anguish. The combination of tribal rhythms and lamenting voices makes for an odd and unsettling union that, while not necessarily pleasant to listen to, is at the very least unique. During the track's second half, Devaud mutates the groove until it becomes more of a swinging house pulse than tribal stomp but the intermittent appearance of the female vocalist prevents the track from ever becoming too conventional. To his credit, in these tracks Devaud takes a road less traveled when he could just as easily have cranked out generic house material. Certainly the label name is fitting.

September 2009