In the small but respectable discography which precedes Slava's debut LP, Raw Solutions, the Moscow-born, Chicago-reared, and now NYC-based producer has shown an affinity for operating in the undefined territory between a variety of genres. A raw take on hardware-born house holds a prominent position at the base of his work, but touches of footwork, cosmic disco, and sprawling new age have certainly found their way into his productions as well. While this genre ambiguity may have served him well on his shorter outings, when it's spread across 12 tracks, it makes for a debut album that sounds underdeveloped and often aimless.
To its credit, Raw Solutions starts off on the right foot. The album's lead track, "Werk," is an interesting exercise in 130-bpm house, one built around piling horn stabs, dry tom hits, and cascading bell chords. Soon after, "Girl Like Me" and "I Know" deliver solid efforts; both are loosely based on the tempo and drum programming of footwork, but their rhythms are infused with a calm movement, courtesy of some cool chords and tasteful vocal snippets. Add the half-time bounce of "Heartbroken" to the aforementioned tracks and we've essentially run through the album's highlights—all of which appear in its first four offerings.
"Girls on Dick" is the first track to signal Raw Solutions' eventual demise. A production as crass as its title suggests, "Girls on Dick" strives to be a foreboding slice of jukey ghettotech, but ends up sounding simply limp and uninspired, especially when topped with the unfortunate vocal refrain from which the song derives its title and an incessantly repeating sample of a Lil' Wayne-esque "Ch'yeah." Later in the album, Slava uses similar combinations of bizarre, sexually charged vocal samples and rigid sonics to the same effect, namely on "On It"—which uses the same "Girls on Dick" vocal sample, minus the "Girls"—and "How U Get That," both of which make for disappointing outings. Even with "Hold On" and "Crazy Bout U"—two songs which harken back to the record's more successful first half—filling the space between these more crude cuts, the latter part of Slava's album frequently sounds like missed opportunities and extraneous filler.
Still, Raw Solutions closes with a glimpse of hope. The four-minute "Wit U" resolves the record with a gorgeous, beatless composition that wraps stuttering chords and entrancingly active vocal manipulations around one another, ultimately offering the album's most immersive listen. If only Slava had focused on the highlights and cut the weaker numbers from his debut LP, he might have had a rather strong EP to share.