French master of bottom-end groove finds his finest hour and gets away with it
Third albums usually belong to the “make it or break it” category, yet this record boldly embraces both parts of such equilibrium, establishing Shob not only as a four-string force to be reckoned with, but also showing him as an artist who’s able to adjust any mold if melodies demand a new shape. Unlike the intellectually intense "Karma Obscur" which saw the light of day one year earlier, “Solide” is visceral, its virtuoso techniques reflecting equally complex emotions and an Afrobeat slant spicing it all up.
As a result, if the title track – the sole proper song on offer – lets vocals rage and rave, there’s no escaping the streamlined spank of “Turbo Zülü” or the swirl ‘n’ stumble of “Hostile” whose dewdrop funk is softened by organ, while bass runs and rumble are accentuating, rather than puncturing, the increasingly cosmic groove – unafraid now to lead the progressive charge into fusion. The riff-laden “Primal Fear” may be heavier, yet the piece’s Philly-sound gloss adds sweetness to the assault, whereas the ’70s playful vibe drives “Vertige” via tempo shifts to “Mémoire” that’s elegantly hazy-eyed, but the rhythm-baring “La Brèche” is possessed with Latin vivacity.
Handclaps and brass propelling and caressing the question of “What Now?” to suggest a dancefloor-bound answer, before guitar licks kick it to the curb for the low-end to have a field day, the funereal “Totem” mixes scratch and chant, creating apocalyptic calypso along the way. Should Shob limit his attack on “Cure” to rock tropes, this number would stand out anyway, yet there’s a spiritual stance in there, too, so the unhurried voodoo behind “Dr Gros Zozo” could be the very logical route out of the record which will refuse to leave the deck for a long time. Vraiment, solide.