"IT ALWAYS BOTHERED me that people said I made this happy, childlike music," says Jason Amm from his hotel room in Boston. Amm is the musical mind behind Solvent, the one-man synth pop band on chic electronic label Ghostly International. After spending a half-dozen years at home in Toronto raising his first child, he's finally released another recording. The title Subject to Shift gives a heads up that there's something new going on with Solvent's sound.
"I'm very into dark music and always have been," Amm explains, "I always get reviews that say I make super happy robot music, but I love goth industrial... bands like Skinny Puppy, that's my background. I wanted to introduce some of those darker elements in my music in a more blatant way."
There is something sinister in songs like "Take Me Home" and "No One Should Be Living Here"—both eerie tracks that sound more like malicious machine apocalypse than robot utopia. While some of the brooding new material on Subject to Shift is unfamiliar, it's a limited departure from the classic Solvent sound. The cheery melody and accessible vocoder work on "Caught a Glimpse" are very reminiscent of Solvent's 2004 defining hit, "My Radio."
Amm is clearly evolving, but even he admits to feeling put off by musicians who make overly drastic changes in style. He was careful not to stray too far from the sound that's driven his popularity and he strikes a perfect balance with Subject to Shift. The album is every bit as beautiful as Amm's past productions, and filled with the same emotive tone that cradles the listener into wondering what deep meaning lies behind each addictive pop track.
"I'm trying to sum up some of the different things I've been working on in the last six years and show that I have something new to bring to the table," says Amm, "but the last thing I want to do is alienate people who already like my music."