With a Tascam 244 4-track and an E-64 Sampler Solar set off like any random sunbeam shot through the cosmos. Tim Drury, a student at Central Saint Martins, and Dylan Rippon, a medical student at St. Barts, met in 1997. The 6 EPs they released on their own imprint Diablo Fuel feature everything from hardcore country (Somebody On My Side) to minimal electro (Drifting Knowing) via voodooed psychedelic rock’n’roll (Thin Air). Drenched in magical reverb-laden loops, pitched down and then up, bit-crushed and inverted and everything saturated with the hiss of tape, Solar’s music and Drury’s artwork define the new art-pop of the century’s end.

Solar Heathrow Airport 1998

In 1999 the band were signed by Principle Management which led to a publishing deal with Blue Mountain Music. Retreating to the label’s basement studio Solar extended their lineup adding Keith McAndrew on bass and Quillon Larratt on drums. The recordings they made, which HRWZ has collected together into the LP ‘Astrodome’, were a celebration of yet more influences – Mali music (Revolution Zero), Glam Rock (Camel) and Hip Hop (Ten Miles Wide). They refused to be pigeonholed citing Ween’s ‘Chocolate and Cheese’, Saint Saens’ ‘Carnival of the Animals’ and The Beatles’ ‘White Album’ as spiritual guides. They tried to swerve around the industry’s idea of genre, brands and marketing – they defended their right to create anything. The Solar project was ultimately a glorious failure. Support from Xfm, a tour of the UK and a slot supporting Pete Townshend at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire were highlights of the band’s brief career. But the music was anything but a failed experiment and their records are still a beautiful, strange and wondrous middle-fingered salute.

Solar's Artwork by Tim Drury