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 

Single Review – SOHN – Signals

SOHN is the stage name of London born and 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. His new single ‘Signals’ comes two years after his debut album Tremors and offers up a clear, yet natural progression to his sound. Spaced out and resonant synth chords 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. It is a stylish and effortlessly delivered track which is now becoming the norm for SOHN.

Owen Riddle

Musicandotherthingz.com Best Vocalist of 2015

Here’s the list of ten nominees for Best Vocalist of 2015.

 

3. Kwabs (15%)

London’s Kwabs has certainly made a mark that’s arguably bigger internationally than it is domestically, but nevertheless the UK is gradually coming to it’s senses as to his talent. He is instantly recognisable for his deep Baritone vocal and it seems to have endless power behind it for him to sustain that tone effortlessly. Not only that, but he can apply his vocal to the Pop of ‘Walk’ or to the Power Ballad of ‘Forgiven’ as well as the slow piano tunes and Soul tracks on his debut album Love +War. A Great vocal talent that can only get better.

 

2. Matt Bellamy – Muse (19%)

It is difficult to have a category on Vocal performance without mentioning Matt Bellamy of Muse. His large vocal range as a Tenor is a rarity in the Rock world and he often uses it to maximum effect as he did again with Muse’s seventh studio album Drones in June. The musical power and weight of the bands sound rests on Matt’s ability to be heard above it all and shouldn’t be underestimated.

 

  1. Florence Welch – Florence + The Machine (23%)

An unsurprising top spot for Florence Welch who is able to convey a wide variety of tones and her entire vocal range is just one song, never mind a whole album. Even the whispered backing vocals of St.Jude are full of energy and her ability to gradually build up her vocal over a sustained period deserves commending. There’s more to being a vocalist than just power, Florence has that, but she can rapidly alter her sound to different forms which makes her greater still.

Disclosure – Caracal Review

So Disclosure have released a new album and I’m excited about it. It goes by the name of “Caracal” and features everyone from Miguel to the Weeknd – the album sees Lorde seduce a married man in the video for ‘Magnets’ and also introduces us to the new James Bond track vocalist with “Omen” featuring no other than Sam Smith. The Lawrence brother’s are deservedly celebrating their second UK number 1 album, a massive achievement considering they’ve only been active since 2010, and what a huge progression since their early days in the industry.

Holding on is a track that features Grammy winning Jazz singer Gregory Porter, whose voice has been anywhere and everywhere this past year, even on this particular song “Holding on” which has been a massive hit prior to the album’s release. The background synth and almost clap-along beat is a standard with Disclosure tracks and it fits beautifully with Porter’s gliding vocals.

Up next we have an 808 that leads us into a snare, and a snare that leads us into some extra terrestrial sounding special effects, that eventually lead us into the magnificent roar of Lion Babe. “Hourglass” is Jillian Hervey’s first feature track, and she couldn’t have picked a better duo to collaborate with. In “Hourglass” she stays true to her soulful husk, and this combined with the magic of Disclosure’s production makes for a pretty easy listen.

“Willing and Able” by Kwabs is my favourite from the album, it’s introduced by trademark Disclosure percussion and is completely chilled and relaxed. I’m a huge fan of the very slight reverb on the vocals, and the synth progression on the build up to the chorus is what holds everything together.

Regardless of who Lorde collaborates with she always manages to keep in tact her signature style and doesn’t lose any of her substance through the wants of other artists. Her feature track is called “Magnets”, and both Lorde and Disclosure performed last year at the Brit awards, doing a combined version of “Royals” and “White noise”. They obviously clicked and realised they worked well together because “Magnets” has an absolutely incredible sound that takes the qualities from both parties and merges them into one.

King of the slow jam Miguel has his spotlight with “Good Intentions”. Just by listening it’s really quite hard to tell it’s his vocals, and this song I feel is slightly over processed. I wouldn’t say Miguel’s sound is distinct, but it’s definitely recognisable in his own music. I really feel like it’s been lost under all these deep house Disclosure layers and I can’t help but imagine how amazing it would sound if his voice was a little more raw and stripped back.

Ever since hearing her own track “Zillionaire” I’ve been obsessed with Nao. It was a song I had heard and forgot to Shazam, thus spending days of my life trying to piece together the lyrics I could remember in the hopes that a google search would reunite me. “Superego” definitely does not disappoint, it’s what liquid gold would sound like if it had the ability to sing. Again it incorporates a ridiculous amount of synth and layers but thankfully they don’t take away from the quality of her vocals, she makes it work and that’s just her style.

The album draws to a close with Echoes, which isn’t anything that different to what we’ve already heard from Disclosure. It features Synth, obviously. Why do the Howard brothers love synth so much? The last track on the album goes by the name of “Masterpiece” featuring Jordan Rakei, it’s a slow start with a slight build up, but it’s not what I would call a masterpiece.

All in all I would probably give “Caracle” a 7 out of 10 rating, it had the potential to be a 10 but I feel like the boys have played it too safe and repeated a lot of the same sound that could have been really innovative and new. It wasn’t an album that featured tracks I was surprised by, instead I was kind of thinking “oh, more synth.” I understand that Disclosure have a particular sound but sometimes it’s good to step out of the box and make something that really surprises listeners which they’re more than capable of doing. Hat’s off to them though, because they’ve produced some really solid material and I know there’s more greatness to come.

Disclosure – Caracal = 7/10

Hannah Crowe

Kwabs – Love + War Review

Kwabs is the stage name of Kwabena Adjepong from Central London. He’s already received much attention in the mainstream media of from the BBC and MTV, having a song featured on the FIFA 15 video game and becoming a Number One overnight sensation in parts of Mainland Europe. Superficial points aside, Kwabs’ moulding of the burgeoning Neo-Soul genre saw him produce a successful EP last year in collaboration with Vienna based producer SOHN. With his debut album Love + War, he’s teamed up with SOHN again as he looks to replicate his success and the acclaim he has garnered in places like Germany as one of the most promising British acts around… no pressure then.

With ‘Look Over Your Shoulder’ SOHN provides the sombre whirrs of electronica as his minimalistic approach brings out the wholesome and smooth quality of Kwabs’ baritone vocals. He also demonstrates his impressive, yet cool vocal range and variations without ever sounding like he’s made much of an effort and in this sense his vocal performance reflects off the instrumentation very effectively. This track is well instrumented and structured as it sends out that intricate, yet punchy rhythm and harmony behind the fluid foundation that is Kwabs’ vocal performance. ‘Layback’ is a more soulful and spaced out affair which features Kwabs isolated vocal reverberating and trembling in the verses and harmonising with the sweeping electronica of the chorus in a wave-like melody. Despite the power of the chorus and the detail of the verses, it still gives off the essence of a laid back and chilled track and that really is a credit to the production and to Kwabs’ effortless vocal ability from which a complex and smooth pop song has came into fruition. ‘Forgiven’ is a track of great strength and power via another immense vocal performance that runs in conjunction with a dramatic vocal instrumentation which basically drives the song with only subtle reverb and electronica being added. It’s a towering performance enhanced by a minimalist production and arrangement.

The album opens with the title track which opens as a heavy electronic affair with whirring and warping synths and flashing samples strung together by a blocky bass line before somehow falling away effortlessly and turning into a groove filled piece by the end of the verse. Again it goes on to fool you by the chorus as it slips effortlessly into a track made of heavy percussion with Kwabs vocals sailing through them. This goes on throughout what becomes a euphoric track and a heightened piece of pop music. Of course there is that hit track that shot him to the top of many of Europe’s charts and that is ‘Walk’. It is a track of consummate boldness and prominence from the apprehensive piano chords that launch the song into it’s churning and rumbling chorus which punches it’s way along as opposed to progressing peacefully. These parts drop off the face of the earth and the song is still carried on Kwabs’ vocal before launching back into the bold and uncompromising chorus. Nestled in amongst these big tracks are the simple string laden, piano ballads of ‘Perfect Ruin’ which simple and more graceful and whilst far from being the best track of the album, it offers up a more emotive quality and a sense of balance for the album. Those such as ‘Wrong or Right’ advance the notion of neo or alt-soul music in a positive light whilst those such as ‘My Own’ or ‘Make You Mine’ offer up some oddly placed moments of pop cheese and see’s Kwabs delivering Justin Timberlake-esque tracks. These are the only weaknesses of what is a more than promising debut from a genre smashing artist with one of the best vocal performances of the year. When is his next album out?

Kwabs – Love + War = 8.5/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Kwabs – Layback

The new offering from London’s Kwabs and his September 11th debut LP Love + War is the new single ‘Layback’. This track features and more soulful and spaced out affair which feature Kwabs isolated vocal reverberating and trembling in the verses and harmonising with the sweeping electronica of the chorus in a wave-like melody. Despite the power of the chorus and the detail of the verses, it still gives off the essence of a laid back and chilled track and that really is a credit to the production and to Kwabs’ effortless vocal ability from which a complex and smooth pop song has came into fruition.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Kwabs – Look Over Your Shoulder

Kwabs is the stage name of Kwabena Adjepong from Central London. He’s already received much attention in the mainstream media of from the BBC and MTV and having a song featured on the FIFA 15 video game. Superficial points aside, Kwabs’ moulding of the burgeoning Neo-Soul genre saw him produce a successful EP last year in collaboration with Vienna based producer SOHN. With his debut album Love + War set for a September 11th release, he’s teamed up with SOHN again for his new single ‘Look Over Your Shoulder’. SOHN provides the sombre whirrs of electronica and his minimalistic approach brings out the whole and smooth quality of Kwabs’ vocals. He also demonstrates his impressive, yet cool vocal range and variations without ever sounding like he’s made much of an effort and in this sense his vocal performance reflects off the instrumentation very effectively. Kwabs is certainly a rising British talent and he’ll only cement that status with an album as solid as this track.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995