[sic] Magazine

SOHN – Rennen

Micro-genres come and go, but “blubstep” – the emotive, understated end of electronic production which emerged from the vapours and corrupted beats of post-dubstep – lives on. Its king, of course, remains James Blake, but re-joining the queue of would-be courtesans with a new album now comes Christopher Taylor, aka SOHN (pronounced Sonn). Taylor was quicker to the point than the ponderous Blake on his fragile 2014 debut, Tremors, though, and so he is once more on Rennen.

He’s married now and a new father, too. He’s also moved from his native Vienna to LA, but his music was still written at night in solitude. Taylor’s life may recently be mile-a-minute (Rennen is German for “to run”), but his music for the most part continues to reflect its isolated conception. Relatively speaking, however, and despite his concessions to anxiety and relatable concerns with the current political climate, Taylor is feeling quite chipper in places. This translates in practice to a succession of glitchy pop numbers given a glossy finish by silky neo-soul. The strong opening pair of tracks consequently paints a picture of dark R&B that pops with stuttering beats, buzzed-out synths and kitchen-sink percussion. In the best possible way, they sound like off-cuts from The Weekend’s most recent album, ones deemed too tasteful – for which you can read too nuanced (co-incidentally “Hard Liquor” was initially written for another artist before Taylor, who’s previously co-penned melodies for no other than Abel Tesfaye, decided he liked it too much and took it on himself).

Taylor’s increased confidence is evident and contagious, hook-ups with Milla Jovovich who directed and stars in the video for “Signal” included, but much of the remainder of Rennen’s running order is made more listenable than the adventurous – but minimal – musical palette probably ought to be by his ever-engaging tenor vocal. Be it digitally manipulated or simply unadorned, it drips like haunted honey, particularly on the dizzying Radiohead-gone-gospel “Proof”, and it’s often an ideal bed-follow too for his simple piano lines and tender love songs, but equally it’s just the easy sell for an album that’s a touch over-perfumed.

Best track: “Conrad”

~Rennen is released January 13th 2017 via 4AD.~