Hearing Aide: SOLARiS ‘This is What You Get’

What do you get when you cross an improvisational instrumental trio and a good amount of studio time? This Is What You Get. That’s the name of the newest album of Ithaca-bred band SOLARiS, who have taken the Upstate music scene by storm with their minimal use of instrumentation and maximum use of funkadelic improvisation.

Released on September 9, this LP has 13 tracks that often contrast in style. With the mutual understanding of the improv art, however, these three amigos certainly create a sound that blends each song together with the next.

Back in 2010, bandmates Jared Raphel, Vince Naro, and Daniel Scott Lyons met in Binghamton and had a vision: to create a jam band that sounds completely rehearsed, but thrives in creating music on the spot. With their earlier releases, such as Beyond 3-D, BLACK, and NeoN, they have kept this vision alive, combining their raw improv with production effects. Even skimming through their discography, you can see this vision within their song titles, like “First Jam”, “Unfrozen (A Live Jam),” and let’s not forget one of my favorites from This Is What You Get (or TIWYG), entitled “Billy’s Jam.”

While albums like Beyond 3-D clearly blend studio production into their mix, TIWYG brings listeners back to basics using only three instruments: keys, bass, and drums. The most basic instrumental combinations take place at the beginning of the album, especially in songs like “Doomsday” as well as “Drum and Bass” (no kidding).

As the album continues, the trio introduce electronic components, such as a drum pad versus a kit, as well as added synthesizer effects on what was a keyboard. By the time we are brought “In The Jungle,” we are greeted by a progressing bass line and simultaneous synth melodies, embodying a walk through an African safari. Following right after is the title track of the album, “This Is What You Get” where we switch gears to include more of a hip hop drum influence, with swirling echoes throughout the keyboard section. In case that wasn’t enough contrast for you, be sure to listen to “Iron Dome,” which I can only describe as electronic drum pad meets the Indian santoor.

To experience this improvisational magic, you can always find This Is What You Get on their Bandcamp. Luckily for us, the band tours primarily in the New England area, making stops throughout Upstate quite often. They’re playing a show this Halloween at the Lot 10 in Ithaca, so don’t just take my word for it; experience their live improvisation for yourself! Make sure you follow their website and Facebook page, and go catch them at one of their shows and see what YOU get from SOLARiS.

Key Tracks: Billy’s Jam, Doomsday, This is What you Get