Described as Justin Timberlake-meets-Thom Yorke during his time fronting alt-R&B project Trouble Over Tokyo, Austrian-based London producer Christopher Taylor doesn’t appear to have been too troubled by such a label, judging by Tremors, his first studio effort under the guise of SOHN.
Indeed, there are shades of the former ‘N Sync star throughout the album’s eleven poignant tales of unrequited love (most evidently with the piercing falsetto which first soars above the glitchy electro-soul of opener “Tempest”) while the achingly sad digital balladry of “Paralysed” and the title track could easily have been lifted from any one of Radiohead’s post-OK Computer releases.
Of course, SOHN, who’s recently helped to launch the careers of LA songstress Banks and gospel soul man Kwabs, hasn’t built up a reputation as one of the UK’s most gifted producer-vocalists by simply aping his musical idols. There are plenty of moments on Tremors when he channels his overwhelming sense of paranoia and yearning into something far more idiosyncratic.
“The Wheel” is a spell-binding ode to heartbreak which combines devastating lyrics (“I died a week ago”) with an intriguing robotic vocal loop which recalls Laurie Anderson’s oddball classic “O Superman.” The gorgeously brooding “Bloodflows” begins as a The Weekend-esque misery-laden slow jam before building up to an intriguing and utterly haunting doo-wop choral finale. And “Random Notes” is a movingly bleak blend of ominous deep basslines, maudlin guitars and post-dubstep beats which appears tailor-made for a rainy night bus journey home.
Admittedly, Tremors would have benefitted from the occasional change of pace, with only the percussive future-pop of “Artifice” deviating from the sleepy, sombre and spacious formula, resulting in a second half which is often indistinguishable. But when it hits the mark, SOHN’s spurned lover routine is nothing short of engrossing.