Sola Rosa

Some of the best sample-laden electronic downtempo is in fact made by musicians with backgrounds in live performance playing instruments like the guitar, piano and drums. They supplement their sampled sources with live playing and a natural musician's instinct for how things fit together. The first two albums from gifted New Zealander Andrew Spraggon aka Sola Rosa remain superb examples of this.

artist:
Sola Rosa

country of origin:
New Zealand

style(s):
Lounge, nu jazz, trip hop, breakbeats, cinematic

decades active:
00's - 10's

essential releases:

  • Solarized (2001, Festival Mushroom/Way Up Recordings)
  • Haunted Out-Takes (2004, Festival Mushroom/Way Up Recordings)

Reviewed by Mike G

Some of the best sample-laden electronic downtempo is in fact made by musicians with backgrounds in live performance playing instruments like the guitar, piano and drums. They supplement their sampled sources with live playing and a natural musician's instinct for how things fit together. The first two albums from gifted New Zealander Andrew Spraggon aka Sola Rosa remain superb examples of this. He displays a sharp ear for film soundtracks, reggae, jazz, hip hop and folksy tunes, blending them with brilliant cut-and-paste techniques and some fine playing and melodic writing.

B are warm, soulful gems. Spraggon has evolved a distinctive brand of globetrotting lounge music that gets you nodding your head without compelling you feet to go anywhere fast, even if Haunted Out-takes (2004) has some harder hip hop beats and is not as soft and dreamy as debut Solarized (2001). He also has strong visual sense; the "cinematic" tag often attached to his music is a fair one. Just listen to the trad jazz arrangement of the second album's "Go Underground" with its sweet clarinet melody, a luminous imaginary soundtrack to scenes of nightlife in the prohibition world of the 1920's. Or the liquid slide guitar flourishes of "Terrorgosa" evoking a seedy roadside diner against a lonely desert expense, with the ghostly atmospheres of Ennio Morricone's film scores hanging overhead.

Since Haunted Out-Takes, Sola Rosa albums have taken the same path that so many other artists making instrumental downtempo breakbeats have taken since mid 2000's: they bring in the singers, rappers and lyrics. On latterday albums like Get It Together (2009) and Magnetics (2015), instrumentals have largely been abandoned and they are far better judged as vocal soul and nu jazz recordings than chillout.

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