Artist Spotlight

Review: Son Lux, “Lanterns”

No Comments 10 November 2013

Review: Son Lux, “Lanterns”

“Son Lux continues a streak of merging disparate elements into something refreshingly accessible and yet totally foreign with this record. And it’s utterly illuminating.”

Artist: Son Lux

Album: Lanterns

Genre: Electro-Pop / Experimental

RIYL: Bjork, Radiohead, Arcade Fire

Son Lux Lanterns

After the first few seconds of “Lost It To Trying,” I fell completely and willingly into the world of Son Lux (aka Ryan Lott). Son Lux has gained notoriety in recent years both for his s/s/s project (with Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti), and for being named NPR’s “Best New Artist of the Year”.This is electronic-experimental-chamber-pop with flair and soul, and that weird and juxtaposed hybrid doesn’t completely cover what’s going on with Lanterns, the third release from Lott. It’s peculiar in the best way possible. Experimental, but accessible. Images and sounds extracted straight out of one man’s head and set to music. But perhaps most importantly, it’s “composed.” As in, “Son Lux is a modern independent music composition artist” rather than a songwriter.

The aforementioned “Lost It To Trying” is an energetic and moving piece of wonderfully weird artistry that manages to harness a futuristic fusion between opera and technology. It’s a glorious track, and fleshed out in a way that’s not only approachable, it’s catchy. “Easy” is another standout, a soulful but stark song that features killer saxophones and a restrained groove. “No Crimes” makes fantastic use of rapid fire percussion, syncopated melodies and climactic vocals and instrumentation. Like some sort of alien symphony, this track keeps building and building and then releases into the ether from which it came.

“Enough of Our Machines” evokes a strange minimalist soundscape, populated with dissonance and stark contrasts. This track in particular speaks volumes between sounds, where the deliberate pauses brim with beauty and tension. “Plan the Escape” is a living, breathing piece of raw power mixed with heavenly vocals and a warm groove. The closing track, “Lanterns Lit,” still maintains this otherworldly quality while evoking warmth and a sense of hope. What’s usually missing from a record that plays so heavily into a futuristic sound is that element that gives it its humanity. That’s not the case here; in fact, it is Lott’s vocal work - steeped in warmth, soulfulness and fragility - that catapults Lanterns straight into my top records of the year.

Lanterns is a record built on hybridization of sounds, instrumentation, technology and tradition. It’s welcoming at the same time it’s completely alien. Son Lux continues a streak of merging disparate elements into something refreshingly accessible and yet totally foreign with this record. And it’s utterly illuminating.

Son Lux website: http://sonlux.tumblr.com/

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