Upon first listen, Christopher Taylor, or SOHN, manages to put the listener in a strange and sorrowful, yet intrigued place with Rennen. Without a doubt, SOHN displays his talents as a singer and producer, but fails to invigorate his memorability and connectivity.
On Jan.13, the English producer released his second full-length album entitled Rennen on the British independent label 4AD, which boasts several popular artists, including Purity Ring and Grimes.
His ability to modify and overlay his own voice to provide vocal content, as well as his exploration of complex synth patterns and percussion beats, are perhaps the sole bright spots throughout this album. There is no question that SOHN himself is a very gifted singer — his voice immediately hypnotizes listeners into a trance.
SOHN seemed to be overly dedicated to a stagnant pattern with each instillation on the album. Laying down some synths, overlaying and modifying with repetitive vocals, then innovating appeared to be his go-to process.
Each song begins in a soothing, simple manner, but then culminates into a cluster of synths, percussion, vocal samples and an overload of erratic, perplexing noises that at some points may lose a casual listener’s attention.
The lyrical content seems sorrowful with dark eerie synths and beats to match. A best guess to pinpoint a style similar to SOHN’s would be a combination of Chrome Sparks synths, eerie feelings like Gesaffelstein and vocal patterns similar to Lido or Crywolf.
With all this said, there are several songs that are worth a listen.
“Falling” provides listeners with some much-needed excitement and diversity. The song begins with a heavy, largely upbeat synthesized pattern, and incorporates some high hats and background noises that are hard to pinpoint. The words “falling” are repeated in a hypnotizing manner until they are the only segment of the song. Then, perhaps the most captivating synthesized pattern comes on heavily to evoke feelings of power and engrossment.
The song titled “Rennen” is a testament to SOHN’s vocal talents. It begins with a soothing, yet mutated tone that almost distracts listeners from its sorrowful lyrical content. It includes phrases like, “my faith don’t mean a thing,” and “I’m sorry about giving up,” which are repeated several times. Throughout the song, SOHN harmonizes several variations of his own voice with a complexity that garners respect.
Finally, “Conrad” is perhaps the one piece that stands out the most on the primary listen. The song is a combination of a well-put-together percussion pattern with ongoing background synths and invigorating, lively vocals unlike most other installments on the album. Simply put, the song just feels right and manages to connect with the listener on a deeper level than any other on Rennen.
Above all, the album is hard to categorize and even understand conceptually. Rennen is unquestionably worth a listen but leaves viewers unable to gain a true understanding of what they should feel, leaving them seeking more.