Amsterdam’s Elizabeth Esselink owns a used-record store, and when she decided last year to make her own music, under the name Solex, she made it from the materials closest at hand. In fact, listening to her debut, Solex vs. the Hitmeister (Matador), is a lot like having an overenthusiastic friend preview a bunch of records for you–almost as soon as an idea starts, it abruptly shifts into something else. Esselink sings like a less theatrical Bjork over a collage of quirky, danceable grooves that suggests Cibo Matto with fewer hip downtown friends, but the end result is more elusive than those reference points might indicate. With the rapid-fire samples bolstered by real drums, bass, guitar, and other instruments, it’s hard to get a handle on just what Esselink’s sources are, but given the fleeting, decontextualized nature of her lyrics–in “Solex’s Snag” the memory of a good date is triggered by a run in her stocking, and in “Solex in a Slipshod Style” Esselink stutters excuses for a drunken tete-a-tete–that hardly seems to be the point. Jagged fragments of bubblegum come and go, one relentless set of beats gives way to another, and suddenly the song is over. Charming as the album is, I’m not sure it holds up to repeated listening. But Solex live is well worth checking out: at South by Southwest earlier this year the group included a guitarist and drummer, and the slightly more traditional format seemed to emphasize song structure without marring that appealing ephemerality. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Joe Dilworth.