New York based musician Ryan Lott aka Son Lux has quietly been making some of the most forward-thinking electronic/post-rock music around since 2008. The young musician has taken on his music with a real entrepreneurial spirit, with his songs taking the most unique twists, and exploring all expanses of the musical universe. Despite being highly imaginative, Son Lux’s music has left me a little cold in its abstractness until this year with his third release Lanterns.
While his last album, We Are Rising, was a brilliantly devised concept for an album – complete an album in less than a month – that showcased Lott’s masterful talent, with a month’s time, it’s hard to perfect melodies, harmonies, and beats on intuition alone. With Lanterns, we have a much more elaborately crafted release, from the constant turns the endless array of sounds implored, to the intricate harmonies, to the tightness these songs exhibit despite their elaboration. That’s not to mention the help from some key musician friends like Pete Siberman of the Antlers (“No Crimes”), Shara Worden aka My Brightest Diamond, Darren King of Mute Math, and Ieva Berberian of Gem Club. But beyond all else, Ryan Lott shows his pop sensibilities have matured, and these songs are a testament to the improved songwriter he has become.
“Alternate World” shows Lott reaching out into the ether, exploring the other side through his Christian faith, awakening the listener to the spiritual nature of his music and life around us. While Lott’s music is faith-filled and imaginative similar to Sufjan Stevens (who he collaborated with along with rapper Serengeti on the Beak & Claw EP), his music is filled with questions rather than answers, making it worth thought and meditation. On “Lost It To Trying”, Lott shows off his classical composing chops with the most flurried and vigorous song on Lanterns, filled with string flourishes, hip hop beats, and the seismic chorale refrain. “No Crime” simply takes off, from the opening strings to the thrilling overlapping conclusion filled with multiple gang vocals, rapid fire rhythm, and a flurry of woodwinds and strings; the song simply thrills.
The massive scope of Lux’s music can still leave you a little cold, but luckily he shrinks it down to its bare bones a couple times for a nice change of pace. “Easy” is among the best tracks on the album, led by a slinking and simple keyboard line which is then built upon with Lott’s wildly distorted vocal and the baritone saxophone fighting in. “Pyre” similarly starts like it’s going to be a crowd gathering, but is then stripped down to just Lott and his creeping piano. “Enough Of Our Machines” similarly says forget about all the pomp and circumstance, with a simple but beautiful ballad that is made all the more interesting with conflicted rhythm and the electronic turn it takes halfway through.
Son Lux still hasn’t mastered his formula, as there are still songs like the final two songs, “Plan the Escape” and “Lanterns Lit”, filled with plenty of action, but lack that one real engaging dynamic to really pull you in. While not perfect, Lanterns shows Lott finally honing his abilities for good, and I could see a potential masterpiece right around the corner.
Can’t Miss: “Lost It To Trying”, “Easy”, “No Crimes”, “Pyre”
Can’t Hit: “Plan the Escape”, “Lanterns Lit”