Solvent and Lowfish
by Andrew Duke

Jason Amm and Gregory De Rocher are the brains behind Toronto's revered Suction imprint. Artists who have recorded for the label include Montreal's David Kristian, Manchester England's Brioche Kretzaal, Sweden's Plexus, and Italy's D'Arcangelo. Label operators by day, night finds them slipping into their Solvent (Amm) and Lowfish (De Rocher) guises, where they perform and record "robot music". Fun, funky, and melodic are the best words to use when describing their brand of electronic output.

Solvent has two full lengths (1998's selftitled debut and the recently released Solvently One Listens) to his credit. Though this is electronic music, Amm is focused on songwriting, and has no interest in randomly slinging noise about simply for the sake of being experimental. With heroes such as Depeche Mode and Soft Cell, it's no wonder that Solvent's material easily worms its way into your subconscious and, though free of lyrics and gloss, has a distinct "hum factor". "I like things that are catchy and direct," Amm says. "I'm not really into abstraction."

Lowfish's recordings are in a complementary, yet distinct vein. De Rocher too takes care to release only material that has passed his songwriting standards. His method? He roadtests his new recordings while out driving in his car; when fresh Lowfish material bears repeated listens while behind the wheel, it usually ends up being a keeper. De Rocher admits he works quickly, and thus has many DATs of unreleased songs, but he's not interested in making anything consumer-available simply to have a lengthy discography. February of last year saw the release of his "Fear Not The Snow And Other Lo-Fiing Objects" album on the label, and June of 2000 will see the Eliminator follow up.

Put Solvent and Lowfish together on stage for a live performance as Solvent vs. Lowfish and all musical hell breaks loose. It's a good chaos, though. Picture an analog soundclash, a scene where Lowfish does live remixes of Solvent (and vice versa), where each performs previously released gems with a spontaneous twist, gives glimpses at new material, and keyboard and drum machines fight in a musical free-for-all. Definitely not something you'd want to miss out on.


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