In Maceo Plex, Eric Estornel has been moving something of his headier Techno alias Maetrik into a more accessible realm. Born on the dance floor but not entirely dependent on it, Maceo Plex is project that can go from introspective sorrowful electronica to big-room pleasures, while retaining some of that depth that he requires to remain an underground artist. It features Estornel’s acute and technically magnificent production techniques that cemented his career through Techno’s minimal phase some ten-odd years back, but foregoes the latter’s functionalism in favour of something more cerebral.
On Solar, the sophomore LP as Maceo Plex, Estornal probably travels the furthest to bring these two worlds together, refraining almost completely from the dance floor’s pulse and incorporating more vocals than he’s ever attempted in the past. Solar, named after his first born, is an album of great introspective warmth, and although the lyrics are somewhat flat, shallow and clichéd the subtle role the voice plays within the arrangements, adds a deeper dimension to the electronic landscape they accommodate.
Besides “Lucid Dreamer” and “Tesseract” which call on familiar Maetrik tropes, Solar is the closest Estornel has come to consolidating in Maceo Plex those ideas he set out to achieve in his debut album, Life Index. Unlike that Crosstown Rebels album, which was kind of “made to order” according to Estornel, Solar is the artist’s vision for Maceo Plex finally achieved. Like the Trentmøller’s Last Resort or James Holden’s “The idiots are Winning”, Solar is an album with more to offer than just a loop.
Solar is very much a listening record, something we can put on in the background and engage with necessary and on our terms, in more than one context. Although not quite a pop album, it gets fairly close to being that crossover album that could take Maceo Plex and his music into more mainstream territory.