7 Jun 2020

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Sola Rosa


Since 1999 Sola Rosa’s Andrew Spraggon has been tantalising listeners with otherworldly aural experiences, honing his craft and taking Sola Rosa from a self-released one man project to fully-fledged live powerhouse along the way. He’s kept good company on the road and in the studio, Sola Rosa counting members of Dimmer, Goldenhorse, Pluto and Sommerset amongst the ranks over the years, not to mention pilfering the best members of Che Fu, King Kapisi and Anika Moa’s bands and tapping the talents of internationally renowned artists like Nathan Haines and Spikey Tee. Add to the mix a succession of highly regarded releases the world over on stunning labels that include household names Ministry of Sound, Guidance, Different Drummer, Stereo Deluxe, and Satellite K, and you’ll see why so many eager ears and heavy-lidded eyes are always fixed to fasten on what Sola Rosa does next.

First coming to local music-lovers’ attention as guitarist and vocalist for angular rock band Cicada in the 90s, over the course of the last 9 years Spraggon has been on the receiving end of a Tui (2001’s 'Solarized'), b-net awards (for 2000’s 'Entrance To Skyway' and 2003’s 'Haunted Out-takes'), and a bevy of other accolades and nominations as Sola Rosa, but there’s little doubt when pressing play on 2009's 'Get It Together' that it is his finest accomplishment to date. Taking in a wide swathe of genres, and walking an ever-erratic line between organic and electronic elements, Sola Rosa’s songs continue to pull off Spraggon’s patented trick of electrifying your ears while ensuring that your feet don’t get confused along the way. Three years in the making, 'Get It Together' is best differentiated from its predecessors by a more beat-driven, direct, dance-demanding sound.

Picking up where the performance-based 'Moves On' album left off in 2005, there’s a sweating, smoking live band at the heart of the new record, made up of long-term members of the Rosa roster - Will Scott (drums), Matt Short (bass), and Ben White (guitar). Spraggon studio sorcery has then come into play, tooling up 'Get It Together' for maximum dancefloor impact, and bolstering the album with a roll-call of vocalists, musicians, and compositional contributors running headlong into Sola Rosa’s sonic stirrings at full force – with vocal cuts from Spikey Tee (best known for his work with Jah Wobble, Bomb The Bass, Mark Rae and on some of Sola Rosa’s finest moments); German globetrotter, poet, and singer Bajka; UK MC Serocee; and emerging Wellingtonian songstress Iva Lamkum. Underpinning these outstanding lyrical performances and further illuminating the album’s instrumentals you’ll find an eclectic batch of collaborators that includes the likes of Victoria Kelly, Julien Dyne, Juse, Scratch 22, Hadyn Godfrey, John Highsted, James Duncan, and Miguel Fuentes (who’s played with Isaac Hayes, George Benson, Grover Washington, Patti La Bell and other luminaries).

Album opener 'The Ace Of Space' signals Sola Rosa’s intent, on-edge strings duelling with vintage keys and a stone-faced safe-cracker of a beat propelling proceedings, driving the listener through a twisting instrumental landscape. Next, a sultry vocal turn by Iva Lamkum sees things 'Turn Around', with a loping rhythm, shining horns and punctuating percussion backing her in this smoky little number. Del Ray’s sundrenched instrumental buzz punches through the spliff smoke, with its combination of Mariachi horns and spacey sci-fi conjuring up some kind of Martian Morricone before Sola Rosa tantalise your jazz and swing taste buds with 'Humanised' – one of two great vocal turns by Bajka that you’ll encounter on 'Get It Together'.

Spikey Tee’s stomper 'Love Alone' hurtles over the horizon next, soulful singing borne by a beat that’ll get your legs, blood, and sweat pumping, and entice you off the couch and further out of your cranium. The live band gets another chance to show off their chops on 'Get It Together’s' title track, with keys, horns, and the percussion of Miguel Fuentes fastening on the song’s foundations for a solid six minute workout before the bouncing bassline, hypnotic keys, pitched up vocal sample and the rhymes of UK MC Serocee join forces for I’ve Tried Ways. Bajka makes another welcome appearance on the mic next up, switching from spoken-word storytelling to smoothly-sung hook in the blink of a beat, in her take on 'Lady Love', and then otherworldly strings and a broken-arsed beat kick All You Need into gear, bass and key parts sustaining a compelling conversation alongside more of that bright brass and a vocal sample seemingly dusted off and exported to eardrums from some far-off block party.

The self-explanatory 'Bond Is Back' overlooks the grittiness of the Daniel Craig era, playing up Sola Rosa’s spacey cinematic strengths in a swirling suited-up soundtrack to adventures Fleming’s finest would find unfathomable, but before downing those last drops of martini, you’ve got some more rolling to do ahead of album closer 'These Words, These Sounds, These Powers'. This nice little number signals time to spark up and take the tempo down just a notch – but as there’s no rest for the wicked, you’ll be nodding your noggin throughout and getting ready to take Sola Rosa’s excellent new effort Get It Together out for another spin.

Band Members:
Andrew Spraggon (keyboards, percussion)
Matt Short (bass, keyboards)
Ben White (guitar, keyboards)
Cherie Mathieson (vocals)
Kevin Mark Trail (vocals)
Chris Grant (drums)


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muzic.net.nz Admin

Joined: 17/07/02
Posts: 5294
Location: Manawatu
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Sola Rosa Nominated For B.Net Awards!
Posted: Fri Jul 26, 2002 4:00 pm
Sola Rosa has received the following nominations in the 2002 B.Net Music Awards:

* Best Downbeat Release (Solarized)


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