I love progressive music. Don't get me wrong, there is always room for 3 chords & the truth, but, for the most part, my preference lies with progressive music simply because I like to be surprised.
I love it when you listen to a piece for the first time and it goes off in a direction you hadn't considered ... or when, with subsequent listens, you hear something new each time ... or even when the instrumentation brings something new to the ears - either a new instrument or a new combination of instruments. I love progressive music. Music that seeks to do something new and break new ground.
Son Lux's latest album - Lanterns - is a deliciously progressive album that astounds me on each and every turn. His delicate vocals are combined with a layered ’wall-of-sound’ approach that firmly places the emphasis on dynamics and a creative use of instrumentation to make Lanterns an utter delight for the listener.
Lanterns is more than electronica, it is forward-looking future soul ... a sound that owes a huge debt to Phil Spector and repays this debt multiple times over. The backing is a dense audio stew of sounds, loops & instruments: pianos, synths, samples, percussive elements, and various vocals (both male & female) all work together to create this release and give it a rather distinctive flavour.
Take the third track as an example - 'Ransom' - it features a hypnotic female vocal & 80s synths before the bass kicks in & the wall-of-sound comes to the fore with the skittering string samples. Just as you are getting accustomed to this sound, it cuts to a solo piano & Son Lux's vocals. The instrumentation then grows in dynamic as more elements are added to further develop the sound. It really does make for an engaging listening experience resolving, as it does, at the end with the reintroduction of the female vocals.
The fourth track - 'Easy' - is completely different with manipulated vocals, an incessant staccato played on a synth, & a rhythm born of handclaps ... with a sampled bass-saxophone interjecting some warmth to the soundscape albeit slightly off-time with the other instrumentation.
My particular favourite - 'Pyre' - starts off like a warped gospel choir before going introspective with stripped back percussive breathing & heartfelt vocals before a deliciously fat synth kicks in. The percussion is then joined by what sounds like spoons accompanied by a glockenspiel.
By this point my mind is blown as I try to describe Lux's sound. Fans of Son Lux's work, in particular his previous album - At War With Walls & Mazes - will be familiar with his style and know how utterly futile it is to try and capture in words this unique vision for music.
With Lanterns Son Lux has woven a unique set of rich & detailed sound tapestries that make, for me, an utterly delightful album.