10 February

Sohn, master of an astonishing electro-soul

Music In between writing for Rihanna and remixing for Disclosure and The Weeknd, a solo Sohn confirms his status as master of electro-soul. His second album, Rennen, brilliantlysurfs between R’n’B and minimal techno.

By Thibaut Wychowanok, Portrait: Jules Faure

  • Portrait: Jules Faure for Numero.com
  • After his first well-received album of 2014 and growing recognition in the music world Englishman Sohn could have started sticking his chest out. But his second album Rennen only strengthens his intention by focusing on the basics and electronic textures playing out the quintessential. One single instrument dominates: his crystalline voice controlled to perfection. The producer’s icy electro-soul has become even purer, like a chiselled diamond. On a recent trip to Paris, Christopher Taylor, alias Sohn, confirmed: “Right from the beginning I put the vocal performance at the heart of the album. The production work was then like carving each piece so we ended up with only the essentials. If we want to reinforce an element – a voice, a piano, or the texture – the best way is to stop weakening it by juxtaposing other things.”

     

     

    “Right from the beginning I put the vocal performance at the heart of the album. The production work was then like carving each piece so we ended up with only the essentials."

     

     

     

With Rennen meaning “to run” in German, it comes as no surprise that Sohn’s music is sometimes pressing (Hard Liquor) and hypnotic (Falling) even though as a whole the album is more enchanting ballad with its organic and aquatic sonic textures (Dead WrongSignal). With Harbour, Christopher Taylor’s solitude appears to have taken refuge in a cavern of under-ground lakes where the echo of his voice resonates right up to the crazy instrumental finale. “I wanted the album to express a sense of movement. At the time I was in a constant race: the tour, my move from Vienna to Los Angeles, my marriage, the birth of my first child…” This movement ends up forming a musical river with a fluid beauty that reminds us of sublime compositions by Ravel and Debussy. “They’re very important references for me. They’re among the musicians behind the music of today. A Ravel string concerto has the same sense of rhythm as contemporary rap.”

 

 

His incandescent lyricism re-enchants a very Germanic minimal-techno.

 

 

 

We could establish bridges between his music and the lo-fi R’n’B of Frank Ocean, the evanescent pop of FKA Twigs and the DIY electronic sounds of Bon Iver. And yet Sohn maintains a genuine singularity by achieving an unexpected alchemy. His incandescent lyricism re-enchants a very Germanic minimal-techno. The more affirmed soul accents of the voice naturally accompany a mind-blowing electronica. “I’d originally written the opening song Hard Liquor, for American rapper Saw Dew. I didn’t think that I would be able to sing it, to take on a bluesy voice. Confronting myself in that way was like a click and it proceeded to impregnate the whole record with this new spirit of soul.”

 

Rennen (4AD / Beggars) by Sohn, now available.

 

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