Son Lux - Bones - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Son Lux - Bones

by Rob Taylor Rating:6 Release Date:2015-06-22

"Close your eyes/ Swallow the sun/ You have only just begun". This invocation on ‘Breathe In’ is the first in a series of calls on Bones to some higher power or source.

‘Change is Everything’ begins with seven stabbing jolts of a single major chord, replicating the sound of a large pipe organ resonating through an empty cathedral. If this is meant to be spiritual awakening, I hear ominous foreboding, like a black raven signalling something truly sinister is about to happen. What actually happens, though, is a choppy track full of obnoxiously distorted and loud snare, and clobbering stop/starts. 

The willfulness with which Ryan Lott uses unsubtle modulation continues unabated on ‘Flight’ and ‘You Don’t Know Me’. His is not really a darker art, so where probative comparisons can be made with the likes of Amon Tobin, such as the brilliant tribal banshee techno close-out on ‘White Lies’, it seems more an aberration than a revelation. 

Just as there's little emotional clarity on Bones, a lot of the subtext is indiscernible. The obtuse lyrics don’t help I’m afraid. The impression is of a symposium discussing individual freedom through spiritual awakening. I've always thought freedom of religion was a tautology, so much of it is lost on me, if that was what was intended. 

To be fair though, there are some inspirational moments on Bones. The centerpiece, ‘I am the Others’, achieves an easier musical equilibrium. The message has more cogency because the minimalist template is less distracting for not abruptly jumping to attention all the time.

It breathes in and breathes out as the lyric suggests. Beautiful choral backing compliments some very interesting polyrhythmic percussion over a dark and irregular soundscape. A standout track and one which I return to frequently. 

The plaintive philosophical meandering of ‘Your Day Will Come’ repeats the introductory lyric ("Close your eyes/ Swallow the sun/ You have only just begun"), and remains emotionally consistent until its close. Although threatening to become ostentatiously hymnal, it mercifully, if you’ll excuse the pun, doesn’t do so. The simple but ravishing melody on ‘Breathe Out’ again beckons thought about what Bones might have been with less cacophony.

I feel a great sense of unease with Bones, like there’s more to it which will only dawn over time. I suppose part of the problem is the challenging task of fusing folk with glitchy electronica. The end result being a diffusion of light rather than a suffusion.

A frustrating listen from a clearly gifted artist. 

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