Contrast exists in in many terms, in forms that are only as limited as our ability to think of opposites: black, white; light, dark; strong, weak. Son Lux has, with At War With Walls & Mazes has created music that I have sometimes come to think of more as studies in contrast rather than a collection of songs. His vocals whisper through speakers while an aria wails behind him, and his music jumps from a settled, almost silent tone, to a rage of noises, electronic clashes of guitar in conflagration rising to the sky like tongues of fire from the grounded rhythm below.
The examples are too numerous to catalog completely, but short little list wouldn’t hurt:
“War” – An inhospitable, empty, hospital tune crawls out of a piano, a familiar weak voice just breaking the threshold. The piano continues, attempt play against the quiet, but only accompanies the loneliness, never replacing it. From the drone flutters a violin, a heartbeat, quick and classical, cutting through quiet like the hoping heart of a long-term, hoping to hear, just once more, the light of day.
“Wither” – The sputtering of electronic machine parts keeps pushing itself, 1… 2 …3 …4, until it breaks through, burns up, breaks up, a car bomb exploding from the empty sounds of an empty engine.
“Stay” – A drum beating patiently, anticipating the familiar heart break, heart racing, heart shaking and quivering at the steady pace of a lover too well acquainted with love’s best friend: the end. The moment comes, and she’s coming, not going, approaching, closer, embracing with disaster, flirting on the brink of falling off the edge, but instead rising to a heavenly height, a soul saved from the certain future of a rotting death.
These are of course more figurative descriptions, but one might wonder if they are not accurate all the same. Existing much less as songs than as pieces of music joined in the vague rhythm of polar opposites, the music doesn’t come with the same completeness that a song does. A song is delivered fully to the listener: Verse/Chorus/Vers/ Chorus/Bridge/Chorus/Chorus. The only gap in the pattern has been bridged up. The only place where the listener might place his own impression of the song is occupied before the listener can even invest himself into the music. In Son Lux’s At War With Walls & Mazes, the songs seem much less complete, much less like songs, so when listening, it isn’t so simple to call the song a song. Son Lux allows space for the listener to let his/her mind’s eye dive into the work and make of it what it may. The contrasts only help stir the cognitive soup, calling thoughts to mind about opposites, and how high one has to build from the ground to reach the sky, how much light one can shine on a shadow before it glows, how quiet something has to be for even a pin-drop to scream like a pinprick. Son Lux has allowed the listener to listen to music without listening to songs, like a poet allows the reader to read words without sense, or at least any traditional sense. In this respect, Son Lux also opens the mind’s eye.