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When your debut single starts off with the line, "I died a week ago," it's a pretty good indicator of what mood you're going for with your music. SOHN is probably most well-known, at least in 2014, for his incredible work producing tracks for the likes of Kwabs and BANKS; creating huge, lush, bubbling soundscapes that are tinged with a little bit of darkness and are absolutely perfect backgrounds for the artist to play with vocally. His own solo output retains that dark tinge but places it instead within more minimal, subtler production. Having moved from the grimy streets of London to, what essayist Clive James might argue as the cultural capital of Europe, Vienna, and recording his debut album, Tremors entirely at night or during the dusk/dawn hours, it's a sound that is very much of a specific time and place.

Just as the output of, say, The xx or Rhye, both artists sharing a fair few similarities with SOHN, fit into their own distinct space - the former into that post-night out walk home, the latter into that evening drive through the stillness of the city - Tremors fits into the early morning period in which the birds begin to chirp, the sun beings to peek over the horizon, but there's still that distinct chill and stillness synonymous with the night lingering over everything; where empty streets provide the perfect place for a contemplation of the day ahead. Opening track 'Tempest', which opens with auto-tuned vocal samples that have that strangely appealing Poliça quality to them, is rumbling, moody, and subdued; the quiet before the eponymous storm and a good indication of just what Tremors is trying to capture. It goes for the big emotions such as heartache, depression, and trauma but tackles them in a real, human way, rather than the big bombastic displays; something Bon Iver and James Blake have both done well in the past.

While the subdued melancholic electronica one would associate with the likes of James Blake and How To Dress Well are exactly on point, particularly on 'Bloodflows' and the bubbling 'Lessons', the most interesting points come out in tracks such as 'The Wheel' or 'Ransom Notes'. 'The Wheel' has a real glitchy feel to it, with a looped vocal sample and a bit of glitching acoustic guitar that brings to mind that niche that James Yuill carved out so nicely. 'Ransom Notes', on the other hand, is full of swelling darkness and vocal harmonies that would feel right at home on Wild Beasts' Two Dancers.

The problem with Tremors is that, while it sounds like a combination of these various different artists, sometimes all at once, it doesn't do much to distinguish itself from the crowd, which is why I've namechecked these artists throughout because the tracks on Tremors sound like they could easily fit into the discography of any one of them with ease. It's disappointing when you consider SOHN's work with Kwabs or BANKS, which is full of exciting and interesting dymanics; Kwabs' 'Wrong or Right' in particular filled with rich production that works as the perfect accompaniment to Kwabs' lush, soulful vocals. You can't help but feel that there's something that could've been done here to really make it stand out but it often feels like we've heard it all before.

That's not to say, though, that it's a bad album, by any means. The comparisons to the likes of How To Dress Well, Rhye, James Blake, etc are all well-earned, they sound spot-on, and the stand-out tracks such as 'Ransom Notes' are stand-out for a reason. The overwhelming sadness and despair that permeates the album lyrically manages to sit right on the edge of melancholia without falling head first into the pit. It seems much more accessible than the metaphor-laden tunes of similar artists, instead proclaiming intentions and emotions as clear as the air on those cold, winter mornings. It can occasionally fall into the trap of feeling a bit florid and overly saturnine but, then again, what music about the darker side of emotions doesn't? However, there's always that niggling feeling that there's so much more that could be done here production wise to make it stand out from those comparisons. The crisp electronica really does bring to mind those brisk walks as the sun begins to rise and the cities and towns begin to wake, that bracing stillness coupled with self-contemplation, but these are sounds we have heard before and, while they are as good as those comparisons, it doesn't do anything new.

Tremors is a funny little album. There's a lot to love here, particularly production wise, but it often feels like there's wasted potential, as motifs and themes start to reappear where new areas could easily be explored, and repetition becomes the order of the day. Taken as individual songs, each entry has its own merits and is well worth exploring the depths and intricacies of which there are many, but, when placed together into a continuous stream, it often feels like it all blends into one and those little moments are lost to the void. Tremors is a flawed debut, ironic given the lyrical content, but it's one that, when properly explored, does have some brilliant moments.

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