Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Son Lux: At War With Walls and Mazes

Musician/Producer Son Lux, recently came to my attention through some fantastic remixes he has done of My Brightest Diamond, Mute Math, and Beirut- amongst others . I was further impressed to discover that NPR recently named Son Lux, real name Ryan Lott, as their Best New Artist in 2008. His solo album, At War With Walls and Mazes, has been out for almost a year now, but I have been trying to make up for lost time by playing it incessantly since I bought it this weekend.

The album is best appreciated as a cohesive unit, but a few tracks in particular have compelled me to interact with them.

"Stay" begins with a sparse piano melody which is soon joined with ethereal, electronic swells and a beat that would be equally comfortable in a Chemical Brothers or Massive Attack song. A dirty, soulful organ seamlessly phases in and out of the atmospheric background and is eventually joined with a full string section, climaxing in an emotional frenzy. A single vocal line is repeated throughout the song that builds with equal intensity. Lott contemplates, "Will you love me/ like he loved me/like she loved me/ or will you stay?".

Pitchfork Media comments, "At War With Walls & Mazes is an album infused with a religiosity that's at times humble and unnamed and at times romantic... [speaking of the quoted line] That "He" should probably be capitalized." While the Pitchfork review offers a very informed insight into the album, here I have to disagree with this critic's interpretation of this lyric. As far as I can tell God in this song is the "you" and not the "he".

"Stay" appears immediately after the song "Betray", a sultry groove which examines relational faithfulness despite the partner's infidelity. In contrast, "Stay" is followed by "Raise" which asks God to:

"Raise a living thing from nothing.
Clothed in skin a pile of dry bones.
I will feel breath come into my body.
Then I will know for myself who you are.
Will know for myself
You are who you say you are."

Lott's confidence in the divine seems to be restored as he later proclaims in "Stand":

"You Stand between me and all my enemies."

It's the same formula: one lyric repeated at intervals accompanied by a diverse sonic landscape, featuring operatic crescendos and sudden, haunting minimalist phrases.

Examined in the context of these other songs, I would suggest that in "Stay" the lyricist is grappling with the faithfulness of divine love, in contrast to the flawed "love" demonstrated in broken human relationships.

No comments: