March 10, 2005

Test Spin- Soel

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Maybe you could help me get this album straightened out. The artists are French, the genre is St. Germain jazz, whatever that is and the music is described as “brand-new” but “retro.” The genre is continental Europe, but the music is about “dark Africa.” Sometimes there’s a Hammond B3 and full horn sets; other songs are better suited for the clubs of Ibiza. What is Memento at its core, then? The best description I can give is that the cross-genre compositions sound like a compilation of Medeski, Martin and Wood, Beth Orton, early Carlos Santana and a whole range of other artists that have as much in common with each other as Soel has with its supposed African roots.

But this variability doesn’t mean that Memento still can’t be a decent album — for a few minutes at least. One criticism I have is that though the music starts big, as if composer Ludovic Navarre was telling us he knew his music was beyond categorization, it then digresses into another house album indistinguishable from all the rest. Yet, in the right moods, the seemingly random track order becomes quite an asset if you can put up with it.

Archived article by Elliot Singer
Sun Staff Writer