Ryan Lott, AKA, Son Lux has been busy as of late. Still fresh off the heels of last year’s ambitious collaborate effort with Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti, as well as scoring soundtracks to major blockbuster films like Looper and producing for numerous Anticon label-mates, it’s a wonder he had time to create any material this year to call his own. However, Lott’s signing to Joyful Noise Recordings in May and a simultaneous 7” announcement was a pleasant surprise to core fans. You’d think that would be enough for one artist in the space of a year, but Son Lux is back again for one more surprise and just in time for Christmas.
‘Lanterns’ is Ryan Lott’s third full-length album, and despite the short amount of time between these aforementioned projects of his and 2011’s stellar ‘We Are Rising,’ there’s considerable growth. This advancement is seen through greater dichotomy of both synthetic beats alongside natural brass instruments and the extent to which they complement each other. While familiar territory for Lott, it does feel like there are further strides on these grounds this time around, to the point where it’s almost startling. Nonetheless, the difference between the mediums Lott implements is not the only startling thing found on ‘Lanterns,’ but also the contrast in sounds he creates with them.
All across this collection of songs, there’s sparse, minimal elements mixed with incredible depth. Lost it to Trying is the equivalent to an open-top car speeding through the streets of a busy metropolis, the passengers revelling at the heights of how big the skyscrapers (or in this case, music) can get. The flurry of instruments in your ears like neon lights in your eyes are thrown at the listener on certain songs, while other more down-tempo tracks help balance out this excessiveness. Easy presents this gulf, a song containing Son Lux’s haunting vocals with a beat’s creeping pulse constantly lingering in the background, ready to pounce at any given moment.
Despite the record cover of ‘Lantern’ showcasing a monochrome eclipse, it’s a lot more assured and bright in pop aesthetics compared to the dark nature throughout ‘We Are Rising.’ ‘Lanterns’ feels like it’s focusing on the ethereal bright light behind. Something is still emerging from this New York producer’s computer: a realisation of sound. And after listening to ‘Lanterns’ in its entirety, the slim horizon doesn’t look as foreboding as the sleeve suggests.