SOHN

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SOHN is British indie R&B producer Christopher Taylor, releasing music under label 4AD since 2012. Previously known as Trouble Over Tokyo, Taylor abandoned his upbeat electro-pop leanings, stripping away the stylistic candy coating to reveal a smooth, inky core. Combining dark, gritty synths with minimalistic, shape-shifting beats and voice delivered both pure and doctered, SOHN exists in a laboratory where post-dub production meets falsetto-propelled, lovelorn vocal melody. WIth a simple creative palate, SOHN wrings out every shimmering drop, brilliantly weaving notions into an enveloping blanket of emotion and drive. Over the last few years, he’s nestled nicely into the sonic arena shared with aspects of Active Child, How To Dress Well, James Blake, Mount Kimbie, Rhye and Movement, to name a few.

SOHN has thus far generated one gorgeous LP “Tremors”, and a handful of other originals collected mainly as B-sides. In addition, he’s produced tracks for various acts such as Kwabs, Lana Del Rey and BANKS, remixed Disclosure and Wild Beasts, and hosted the prestigious Residency show on BBC Radio 1 for much of 2014 (lots to hear at https://soundcloud.com/sohn).

Favourite track: Lessons (https://youtu.be/slQJq1OUXyo)… Lessons learned, bridges burned.

José González

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José González is a Swedish folk artist of Argentinean ancestry. Mastering classical guitar and finger-picking techniques, González exists in the same realm of Nick Drake, The Tallest Man on Earth, early Devendra Banhart and Rodrigo Amarante from Little Joy, where Spanish and folk influence meet the familiarity of indie-style, anglophonic singing. Similar to his contemporaries, González approaches his songwriting on two fronts, swirling ethereal vocal melody with tight, impeccably delivered chords; movements where lyrical prose and sonic motif lie peacefully alongside one another, waltz hand-in-hand, debate or spar at his command. He again demonstrates that, fundamentally, music needs little more than a voice and an idea to be a captivating, immersive experience.

Since 2003, José González has released 3 LPs: “Veneer” (my favourite of his), “In Our Nature”, and this year’s comeback, the gorgeous “Vestiges & Claws”. He was also a featured singer with The Books, covering Nick Drake’s “Cello Song” for the indie HIV fundraiser compilation “Dark Was The Night” (https://youtu.be/1FwU230utKY).

Favourite track: Hints (https://youtu.be/T7ZlA5MBleE)… 2 chords and a few words.

Jesu

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Jesu is the post-metal and shoegaze act fronted by influential English multi-instrumentalist Justin Broadrick. Born in 1969, Broadrick has amassed an astonishing collection of musical credits, placing him comfortably amongst the most versatile, prolific artists of the musical modern age. Scanning his catalog, he’s been involved with around 30 projects, some with upwards of 20 releases, and many being genre-defining forerunners such as grindcore act Napalm Death, his own industrial metal invention Godflesh, and my favourite of his works, Jesu. Fascinated with guitars and computer-generated music alike, Broadrick was one of the first to combine heavy, distorted metal influence with the metronomic, inanimate beats and noise overlays of electronics.

In the wake of the initial 2002 dissolution of Godflesh, Broadrick decided to pursue a more melodic outlet. Crafting dense, multilayered power electronics with simple non-intrusive beats and delay-soaked, crystal clear vocal pleas, he appropriates a marriage between elements of post-rock, shoegaze, industrial, ambient, noise, and post-metal. He harnesses the power of a Marshal stack and interweaves ethereal sonic scintillations delivered as a chugging juggernaut, with the resultant blend becoming an immersive, all-consuming sound that swallows you into repetition and hypnosis. A sky of black thunder cloud with howling wind and rays of sunshine piercing their way through the voids.

Signed to influential label Hydra Head Records run by Aaron Turner of Isis and Old Man Gloom, as well as his own Avalanche Records, Jesu maintains high standards of artistic direction, packaging, and special release remixes / reinterpretations, providing a remarkable array of material for his listeners. I’m still working my way through the stacks, but so far have yet to encounter something worth skipping. The particularly recommended releases pictured above are Jesu’s 2006 “Silver” EP and 2007 sophomore “Conqueror” LP. Also mentionable are a split EP with Eluvium collected as “Why Are We Not Perfect?” and “Conqueror” bonus 2-song release “Sun Down/Sun Rise”. In addition, Jesu has contributed a number of remixes for a few birds of his feather like Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Isis and Pelican (try “Angel Tears”: http://youtu.be/WwVcZWqIWRs).

Favourite track: Weightless and Horizontal (http://youtu.be/2eZMqx6knz4)… Lose yourself.