Running to Catch Up
The title of Rennen, the latest album by English musician and producer SOHN, AKA Christopher Taylor, translates as “Running.” And, listening to the highly varied sounds on the album, that’s exactly what we, as listeners, will have to do if we want to have any chance of keeping up with him. Reflecting a changing life that has taken him from Vienna to Los Angeles and from there to a remote dwelling in northern California, SOHN’s new tracks encompass everything from intense, industrial-style beats through dance-floor moves to jagged experimentalism. And anything else you can think of!
Escape or Engagement
Perhaps the strongest parts of the album are the portions of daringly intense electronica it serves up. Elsewhere on Rennen, there’s perhaps a shade too much of the conventional pop song, as if SOHN, for all his experimentalism, now wants to become even more popular than he already is. However, we can hear biting social comment when we listen closely to the lyrics. In “Primary”, for instance, SOHN takes a caustic look back at the U.S. presidential election and takes issue with the bigotry that became part of the campaign. Taken together with another track, “Conrad,” which addresses political turmoil in Europe, this tells us that here we have an artist who might sometimes favor escapism, but ultimately wants to address real-world issues.
Tunes for Strange Times
Following a year marked deeply by the loss of much-cherished stars and by political chicanery, Rennen may just reflect our own uncertainties and inconsistencies. Do we want to hide away from disturbing realities, or do we want to address them? Summing up our tensions and contradictions, SOHN has created an album that mirrors the times, as it veers from unsettling rhythms to uplifting melodies. Long may he run!