SOHN - Tremors (Album review)

It took just about two years for Toph Taylor, better known by his moniker SOHN, to make some waves around the music scene. However, his musical background is a bit longer than that. Born in London, but currently residing in Vienna, Austria, Taylor soon learned to play piano and guitar, but his evergrowing fondness for the soturn electronic landscapes embeds his music and shapes it into something quite exciting and new.

Since 2012, SOHN released several songs that granted him critical acclaim and prod both professional reviewers and all the other mere mortals' curiosity. His sound is obviously electronic, but it's so layered and textured that even if classifiable as underground and experimental, it menages to miss those conventions and become imediate and enjoyable. Taylor knows how to keep you attentive, switching between moments of haunting beauty and fragility where the piano and acustic elements reign and sudden bursts of noise and electronic cacophony. Such were the elements that made songs like 'Bloodflows' or 'Lessons' standout in the first place and reach broader audiences. For all of you who enjoy The xx, James Blake or Jamie Woon, SOHN will feel like the next natural step.

Meantime, while working on new material of his own, SOHN signed with british label 4AD and also produced a song for the mesmerizing BANKS and remixed artists like Disclosure, Rhye and Lana Del Rey, always with brilliant results. But finally, 'Tremors', his first album, is ready to come out on April. He decided to work overnight on the album to avoid becoming distracted by Vienna's fussiness and, every night, he finished his ordeals and walked home, surrounded by the cold air of the dawn, a glacial tonality that influenced the album's overall mood. Opus Sound has previewed the whole thing and assures you we're in for a treat.

A full vocal album - which showcases Taylor's ability as a songwriter and as a musician -, 'Tremors' enlists old tunes amongst new ones. It all begins with the strange 'Tempest' and 'The Wheel', two songs built around highly fragmented samples that soon morph into candid electronic adventures with oneiric synths and flat beats.

The new single, 'Artifice', is probably the most commercial theme of the bundle, tenaciously grounded on r&b molds but unrestrained when it comes to colouring it with inventive strokes of eletronic dyes. The videoclip for this song is also captivating, showing a rainy street fuss in slow motion. Next comes one of our favourite songs, 'Bloodflows', which starts all candid and smooth, Taylor whispered voice singing about contract killers and love as if in a poem, until it erupts in melodic clamors. One of the older tracks, but still one of the album standouts.

Songs like 'Ransom Notes' show more clearly SOHN's acustic background, while the piano driven 'Paralysed' could be used as soundtrack for a drama movie. 'Fool', on the other hand, starts with an agressive, rough and deep bassline which contrasts with the watery keyboard notes. The soothing vocals and fast paced matrix of 'Lights' and 'Veto' remind us of a Jamie Woon's composition, but Taylor is at his best when he throws it all in our face like he does in 'Lessons', a well-oiled crushing machine made of distorted synths and massive beats that add tension and paint a dark, shadowy atmosphere. Learning is never easy, and as the lyrics utter, one must cope with the mistakes of love and stop making them over and over again. The title track, 'Tremors', closes the album on the same tone, talking about the end of love. The only solace is the slight notion of hope etched in its musical structure.

SOHN surely has a bright future ahead of him and this cohesive and elegant album is a bold statement by someone who wants to share a vision on both the inner and outter world he lives in. 'Tremble' has its weaknesses, one residing in the fact that the old singles are still the best moments but, as a whole, it compells the listener to think, to search for the details, to identify himself with the emotional lyrics and that trully deserves recognition.

RATE: 8/10


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