Son Lux - At War with Walls and Mazes
Record Label: Anticon Records
Release Date: March 11, 2008
With the advent of technology and the rise of the remix in popular music, electronic based music has enjoyed a nice breakout in the 21st century. And while the genre was originally known for figureheads such as the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Moby, and Daft Punk, several artists have raised the aesthetic qualities of electronica as art. Such artists as The Postal Service and Caribou create an ambient atmosphere in the music while sprinkling deep and personal lyrics in a way that could only harken back to Brian Eno's records in the 1970s in mixing musical beauty with touching lyrical story. In 2008 another young artist is also attempting to merge that musical beauty shown with fine instrumentation and the mixing techniques of the modern age as Cleveland artist Son Lux presents his debut album, At War with Walls and Mazes. Son Lux is the stage name of Ryan Lott. Lott has risen his profile in the northeastern United States in recent years by remixing songs for Asthmatic Kitty (AKA Sufjan Stevens' label) artists Castanets and winning the "emerging artist" prize in a Cleveland arts festival. With this in tow, he has released a new record on fledgling indie label Anticon Records.
At War with Walls and Mazes begins with the sounds of Lott's broken, technologically altered voice on the album's opening segment, called simply "Prologue." If anything, it befits the album's moody tone of a lost man in search of happiness through the conflicts of his age. The album's first full song, entitled "Break," also is somber although more exposing of Lott's voice and its low-key nature. Lott never rises above his music, which is sort of a flaw in the album's sound as the first half is solemn but also uninteresting. It's a very dry paint-by-numbers piece that only works in a perfectly set mood and no way else. And sadly, it's just boring and sleepy, because there is no jarring moment that makes the listener pay attention to the music. The album does succeed in building to a crescendo in the mid-album track "Raise," which fittingly amps up the bassline to a more industrial and loud tone while keeping the strings and is the album's true climax in that only one other track, the eighth track "Wither," amps up its noise level. By the end of At War with Walls and Mazes, there is a sense that even if the album isn't entirely satisfying, that there is a sense of it standing as a work of art.
Ultimately, Lott brings out where his talents lie with this album and also shows the potential he has in the music scene. While At War with Walls and Mazes doesn't always shine, there are glimmers found in it; Lott has an incredible knack for structure. Much like Caribou before him, he tinkers with the art of making evocative music. This is a fascinating piece from a young artist with a bright future.