Jacen Solo: Virgo
Ai Records

Weaned on a steady diet of House, Detroit Techno, and Warp IDM, Jacen Solo (Doug Adamson) makes his full-length debut with Virgo, a remarkably accomplished outing for someone with only one EP under his belt (2004's Forbidden Medicine). Solo's lush dreamscapes inhabit a gleaming techno-electronica interzone where immaculate surfaces blindingly glisten. Heavily swathed in reverberant echo, his exuberant sound largely eschews darkness and grime for sweeping dance grooves that convey both the panoramic breadth of the open plains and the hyperkinetic neon of the night-time metropolis. Though the synth-heavy emphasis and handclaps give his music an old-school club vibe, its sleek sheen is captivating enough that it succeeds as a 'listening' album too. It's more dance-based than recent Ai releases by Claro Intelecto (Neurofibro), FZV (Precedent), and Yellotone (Tar File Junction), even if the hiccupping grooves of songs like “Dstress” and “Robot Child” recall Claro Intelecto's style.

With its gliding groove, synth showers, and shiny hi-hats, a Detroit influence emerges in “The Nexus Chase” while a subtle hint of hip-hop pervades the darker downtempo stylings of “Dstress.” And though “Shake” transports Solo's handclaps, acid synths, and jacking rhythms beyond the club to an exotic land of hand drums and mournful vocal calls, sparkling synth whistles and silken washes in “Robot Child” and “Encounter (AM Mix)” cultivate a more becalmed ambiance. Best of all, the beautiful “Dancefloor Tingles” takes flight with an irrepressibly bumping pulse, lush swirls, and infectious hi-hat and synth patterns. A seductive merging of electro, techno, and house, Virgo manages to simultaneously reference the glorious techno traditions of past decades while setting its sights on the promise of future sounds and technologies.

July 2005