SOHN is one of those elusive musicians who seems to exist on the fringes of our headphones; he releases music slowly and quietly but the tracks are always so good that you swear you’ve heard them somewhere before. This time you may even be extra familiar with him: though his first record was released in 2014 (which you may recognize from its title track “Tremors,”) his track “Signal” was released in late 2016 accompanied by a video staring Milla Jovovich and it seems we’ve been waiting with baited breath for Rennen to hit shelves and streaming services.
Even from the beginning of the album the wait is well worth it; “Hard Liquor“ starts with a slow, rhythmic cadence that immediately draws you in and justifies its position as both the opening track and the next single to be released off the record. It’s a song I had to resist hitting repeat on as soon as I was done, but ultimately I’m glad I did because the mechanical ambiance fades right into the equally strong “Conrad” to take us further into what is clearly a journey. I love conflicting upbeat sound of this track, too—it feels extra fitting with where we’re at right now in the world, and was extremely welcome.
Past the opening, the first single “Signal” finds a fitting place and leads us right into a smooth transition to “Dead Wrong,” “Primary,” and the title track “Rennen“ which relies a little more heavily on lyrics than some of the other tracks but finds a comfortable home in the middle of the record and earns its place as the title track with the ghostly repetitions of “my faith, my faith don’t mean a thing.” I also love the way the vocals continue to be slightly distant on every track, as if we are overhearing something otherworldly that is still taking place in the same room in which we are listening.
Though the beginning of the album drew me in, I found myself completely in love with “Falling,” which ultimately exemplifies everything that I love about SOHN: the track begins with a steady, subtle beat and those same distant vocals and continues to build upon itself with more layers and more sounds until we end up with a complex, hypnotizing piece that builds to a climax before we are done with it. “Falling,” to me, is easily the starring track of the album and the one that pulls everything together in a way that few middle-of-the-tracklist songs are able to do.
“Proof” begins our descent toward the end and reminds me a bit of Tool or Radiohead (or at least the Tool or Radiohead that I listened to way back in the day of High School, my memory may be failing me so don’t judge) — regardless of the comparisons it continues to build on the rhythmic cadences until we reach “Still Waters,” which lives up to its name as a peaceful ambient track that occasionally brings you back to the present with well placed but jarring notes that remind you that everything is not as it seems.
As we end on “Harbour,” which is perhaps one of the better closing tracks I’ve heard in awhile, it becomes clear that this is a record that was clearly carefully put together: no song is out of place, no sound feels uncomfortable or unintentional. Though “Harbour” begins in a quiet darkness, it builds much in the same way that “Falling” did to create an incredible, impressive finale.
Though time will tell how many of these tracks stand on their own, I feel overwhelmingly that this album as a single whole piece is brilliantly put together and masterfully crafted to give us something altogether unique that stands out among others in the genre. I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys listening to albums as an experience, if you enjoy instrumental-driven music peppered with poetic lyrics, or if you are a fan of ambient soundtracks such as the one for The Social Network.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of Rennen, you can support Headphone Couture by grabbing it from iTunes or Amazon, or purchase it directly from 4AD Records. You can also stream the album on Spotify if you’d like to preview it before you purchase.
Are you a fan of SOHN? Did you enjoy this album? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments!