Martin Solveig

So Far

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Emerging from the same Parisian dance scene responsible for the likes of Cassius, Justice, and Bob Sinclar, Martin Solveig has built up a reputation as one of its more unpredictable DJs and producers thanks to an eclectic sound incorporating Latin, Afro-pop, and a whole host of worldbeat influences in addition to a more atypical blend of disco, house, and electro. Just two albums into his career, the musician named after French actress Solveig Dommartin releases a greatest-hits collection, which may be remarkably premature, but allows any clubbers yet to sample the delights of his well-traveled sound to see what all the fuss is about. Six tracks appear from his 2002 debut, Sur la Terre, the most recognizable of which is his first U.K. Top 40 hit, "Rocking Music," an infectious blend of Justin Timberlake-esque falsetto vocals, rumbling basslines, and hair metal guitars. But it's when Solveig embraces his international influences that he really sets himself apart from his contemporaries. "Madan" is a hypnotic fusion of filtered house licks, disco beats, and African chanting featuring the self-proclaimed creator of Afro-beat, Salif Keita; the soaring saxophone and funky slap-bass lends an '80s new wave pop feel to the tribal rhythms of the spoken word "Heart of Africa"; and the African groove-laden but French-sung "Linda" evokes the authentic Third World jazz-pop of acts like Fela Kuti. For 2005 follow-up Hedonist, Solveig all but ignored his previous experimental ethnic tendencies in favor of a more commercial and melodic pop sound that produced several club hits, including the raucous guitar-driven Rolling Stones-ish house rock anthem "Everybody" and the James Brown-goes-disco pastiche "Jealousy," both of which are performed by sixty-something bluesman Elmer Lee Fields. The other tracks included from his sophomore effort appear to have wandered in from an '80s soul-pop compilation. "Something About You" borrows the intro from Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" before merging into a Fatback Band pastiche, while "Something Better" is an authentic slice of retro synth funk featuring the Michael Jackson-inspired vocals of Jay Sebag. So Far has undoubtedly arrived far too early to be recognized as a definitive Solveig compilation, but it's a pretty reflective and enjoyable stopgap until he inevitably builds up enough material to release one in the future.

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