Review: Solvent’s fourth artist album, Subject to Shift is an aptly named record, displaying the Toronto based producer’s shift in sound for the project. Known for his hook-laden synth-pop, his latest album, the first in nearly six years, sees the producer moving into a more future acid tinged, angst-riddled place with lots of melancholy and moodiness. Delving deeper and darker than before, Jason Amm, the man behind the alias, deals with much more sombre moods and uses his beloved vocoder less than on his three previous albums. The cute, happy and playful robots made with the pleasant buzz and hums of analogue synthesizers from his last full length, 2004’s Apples & Synthesizers are scarcely present, replaced instead with a mixture of dystopian, acid tinged futurism and bittersweet romantic ache.
Solvent’s bright synth tones are still in effect but tend to operate under new, darker conceits on this record. Tracks like "Formulate" hint at Amm’s previous dancefloor leanings but do so in a much more menacing style with a micro-disco throb and slippery vocoder lead. "Don’t Forget the Phone" wraps an arsenal of dark vocal hooks around a jaunty schaffel beat to convey the paranoia involved within a breakup whilst lead single "Loss For Words" and "Caught A Glimpse" explore Amm’s new world of technology aided melancholy. "Take Me Home" is sinister whilst "Panoramic" finishes the record off in beautiful style. There are still the kind of glistening dancefloor moments of old but unlike his previous releases, Subject to Shift is strewn together by Amm’s heartfelt vocals.
Running with an astute sense and beauty and emotional openness from start to finish, Subject to Shift is arguably Solvent’s finest work to date. It is without question grander and takes the listener to a more rewarding place, but fans of his older material will still be able to appreciate some of its familiarity, whilst also admiring Amm’s artistry growth. Pulled together by live vocals and drenched in its creator’s emotions, Subject to Shift feels, despite being machine-made, wholly human.