SOHN – Rennen Review 

SOHN is the stage name of London born and previously Vienna based producer Christopher Taylor. He is one of our most talented producers and musicians with Kwabs bringing him in to produce his brilliant debut album with Lana Del Rey and BANKS just a few others who have requested his services. Since basing himself in L.A, he’s produced a second album in Rennen which comes two years after his debut album Tremors and offers up a clear, yet natural progression to his sound. His strong debut and high demand will up the scrutiny as always, but a change of environment and events usually inspire something or has it only cemented his complacency? 

‘Signals’ is a spaced out and with resonant synth chords that chime gently across the track and its steady percussion. Chris’ vocals calmly sweep in to the setting with pitch shifted backing vocals providing a haunting backdrop. These gentle elements come to a colourful and bold fruition with greater volume and freedom from the initial arrangement into bursts of sound. ‘Conrad’ is a stylish and effortlessly delivered track which is now becoming the norm for SOHN. In many ways it is the archetypal SOHN track with buzzing, whirring electronica with heavy melodies stemming from them. With this single, however he reconfigures his sound with a prominent beat and a freer vocal performance which takes the main focus as opposed to the synth chords. It makes for a song with a greater connection, but a song that retains those cold waves of sound that are beautifully put together. Another strong track. ‘Hard Liquor’ is symbolic of Taylor maintaining the foundations of his sound, but with rougher edges and occasional fast pace forays. This single is symbolic of this adjustment with more prominent beats, scratching synths and a strong whirring sound set around a matured lyrical style. The transition from sparse and minimalist to rhythmic and hook laden is sudden, but smoothly in line with the raised vocals, thus isolating both atmospheres neatly. 

The title track is an echoing piano ballad with vocal rounds and this song seems to have triggered a wave of critics labelling the album a modern Blues record. I wouldn’t go that far, particularly with this track. It’s wistful extensions are the only thing that combines with the piano chords in this delicate track. ‘Dead Wrong’ offers up some well put together sampling and a smooth, buoyant beat. That is where the positives end however. For the rest of the album, whilst still of the same immaculate delivery, it just seems utterly lost and aimless. Almost experimental pieces that didn’t quite work. ‘Primary’, ‘Falling’ and ‘Still Water’ are particularly bad offenders in this case. He rations his already minimal sound and takes notes and tries to stretch them on for whole verses. The lyrics and their structure are messy and aimless too. What makes these tracks standout as being poor is the quality of the first half of the album in particular. Full of energy and suspense even in the more gentle and philosophical tracks. We can only speculate from here as to why there is such a marked difference. Perhaps they were older tracks and/or he didn’t have time to fully develop a full album of Signal’s or Conrad’s stature and that is a real shame as he’s clearly a talented artist.

SOHN – Rennen =7/10

Owen Riddle 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: