I had been wondering a couple of days about a topic for a new article. Something that proved difficult and all had to do with those massive amounts of work that seemed to have chosen me as their target of preference. The bastards.
I could barely hide my happiness when I discovered that artist extraordinaire SOHN just now deemed the moment appropriate to release his second full album ‘Rennen‘, the follow-up to 2014’s ‘Tremors‘. A record that dominated that year, not only for me but as well for some of my closest friends (yes, I do select my friends on their music taste). No home party with them would ever be complete without at least a couple of his tracks. It was clear that the English musician & producer, born Christopher Taylor, and at that time resident of beautiful Vienna had struck a chord within all of us.
As from 2010 London born Taylor had been releasing occasionally tracks under the SOHN moniker, but it was his signing with the 4AD label in 2013 that really launched him into my – let’s face it: pretty limited – sight. With the 2014 gem ‘Tremors’ as the big attention seeker. Whilst easily being compared to the likes of Bon Iver and James Blake, SOHN immediately struck me through his complex persona. Yes he did make (beautiful) pop songs, but they were the strange kind.
Simply stated: he blew me away. The carefully constructed and largely electronic music, richly complemented by emotion and that angelic falsetto, I couldn’t compare him with anyone else. He really got to me, like only other favorite artists of mine could.
And now there’s the new album ‘Rennen‘ (German for ‘To run’). An album made by a man in a different place. Literally: he now lives in California, got married and became a father in the meantime. It’s difficult not to see him even more as a hero now: if he can pull that off this fast, there’s hope for me too.
And SOHN, who worked with Banks and Lana Del Rey the last years, has moved on musically as well. Obviously, one can recognise on the new album his signature, through the production, the inventive sound and that pretty unparalleled voice.
But ‘Rennen‘ feels considerably more personal and is by far more layered and complex. It’s a work in which hooks come when you least expect them and quite a couple of left turns are taken. It’s a playground with a serious sense of experiment on which the boundaries of traditional song structures get tested.
I actually had to go through a couple of listens before I really got into the album. I had to dig for the tracks that I liked. Now, a dozen of listens later, I adore almost all of them (still struggling with ‘Proof‘ and ‘Dead Wrong‘ though). And the record keeps on growing on me.
Picking favorites as a result gets rather difficult. The Gazelle Twin like ‘Hard Liquor‘ is raw and has a military feel to it. ‘Rennen‘ is a beautiful piano song that puts the ‘M’ in ‘Melancholy’. The hypnotising ‘Falling‘ gets me into a trance it is heavenly to dwell in. And ‘Harbour‘ is the perfect closer: a minimal start and build-up turning into the pulsating finale of a solid rave.
SOHN is back and leads us into unknown and new territory. And it’s freakin’ exciting. I barely can wait for the next steps he will be taking. To phrase Little Peggy March: ‘I will follow him, follow him wherever he may go’.
Released: January 13 2017 (4AD)
Must listen: ‘Hard Liquor’ – ‘Rennen’ – ‘Falling’ – ‘Harbour’