I’ll confess I’d never heard of SOHN before I reviewed his album, and now I want to be his best mate.
The singer-songwriter and producer relocated from London to Austria in 2010 where he was able to further develop his unique sound in the growing electronica scene, with Tremors being being the result.
In the pulsating debut, SOHN orchestrates a multitude of bleeps, glitchy synths and sounds. It is incredibly difficult to confine it to even a set of sub-genres, but the result could be best described as the lovechild of SBTRKT and The Weeknd.
His lyrics tell tales of desire, desperation and sorrow, while musically it writhes everywhere from tranquillity to subtle euphoria. It’s rare that a track can drown you in misery and be able to pull you out of it the space of a few minutes. Here, there’s an entire album.
Although ‘Bloodflows’ and ‘Lessons’ were released last year, before the album was completed, the official lead single is ‘Artifice,’ and it’s massive. Like an imposing neon billboard, it’s swoon-inducing, and although the song is the most “pop” sounding of any on the record, it still it pulls you in opposing directions; the music invites you to move, the aching doubt in the lyrics insist you re-evaluate.
Musically ‘Bloodflows’ begins quite tender, but as the lyrics tell the tale of the destruction of a love, it becomes more urgent until halfway through the track’s tenderness flow turns into a desperate ricochet, and it really hurts. The reverberations are almost tribal; think Timbaland forcing SOHN to hold his tongue to battery springs (in a good way).
SOHN sounds soulful in ‘Lessons’, where his voice cuts through the static. In ‘Veto’ his voice cascades over a bass ever so gently licked by Toto’s ‘Africa.’
‘Lights’ sounds like a boat about to take on a crazy storm, but manages to manoeuvre calmly into the sunset. The title track closes the album, and is just as mesmerising. His voice sounds ethereal and choral, his words painfully honest.
Tremors is thought-provoking and emotion-charged. Be prepared for repeated listening as there’s so much to digest, and have a box of tissues handy before hitting Play. You’ll feel the pain in the lyrics, joy in the music, or, like me, both. It’s exhausting.
We’re not three months into the year and yet I may have already found my Album of the Year. A stunning masterpiece of which I can find no fault.