thousands of free and legal carefully curated MP3's


In a world where sampling has become a respected art form, you've got to think a record shop owner would have an inside track, and as Solex, Amsterdam-based kitsch-pop collage artist Elizabeth Esselink proves that hunch to be 100 percent correct. The Dutch sonic prankster digs through her discount bins for the quirkiest, furthest-out aural scraps she can find -- disregarded exotica, theme songs and dialogue from long-forgotten European sitcoms, ancient bubblegum pop, cartoon sounds, swing and big band, fuzzy live bootlegs, amateur four-track recordings, and so on -- then uses her vintage sampler to sew the disparate sounds into a single decontextualized postmodern mess. It's partly an economically motivated strategy, since Esselink can't afford the legal fees most samples require, but her songs also show real affection for these esoteric sounds, injecting new life into them.

With the help of her eight-track, Esselink then adds in other fun stuff, most notably her own idiosyncratic Casio lines and dreamyl stream-of-consciousness vocal meanderings. Her frequent use of perky horns and calypso-style rhythms often gives her unmoored pastiches a bit of a tropicalia feel, though her endless rummaging for pop culture fossils takes her in many different directions. The final product ends up somewhere between synth-driven Commodore rock of Ladytron and the cut-and-paste lounge of Japanese deconstructionists like Buffalo Daughter and Cornelius, though Esselink's sleepy vocal purring and eccentric song subjects help give her songs their own distinctive imprimatur.

Formerly a member of a Dutch indie pop act called Sonetic Vet, Esselink started recording her own stuff in the late '90s, introducing the world to the abstract, peculiarly sweet world of Solex via her debut album Solex Vs. the Hitmeister in 1998. With the follow-up, 1999's Pick Up, Esselink continued to perfect her whimsical millennial dadaism. In 2001, she returned with Low Kick and Hard Bop, possibly her most fully realized foray into lost-and-found pop alchemy, featuring the slinky, horn-laced "Shoot Shoot!"

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