Five seconds into this song I knew that I liked it. Thirty seconds in I knew it was something I loved. One minute in I knew it will be a treasured part of my music library and something I’d often reflect on.
Then why is it that The Wheel has been floating around for eighteen months, yet only just became something that has come to my greatly (ahem) esteemed (ahem) music blogging attention? The answer is that the shame is all mine.
Sohn may have got overlooked because of bad timing. His arrival in late 2012 was at the same time Spartan electronic wunderkinds James Blake, Jon Hopkins, Gotye and The xx were all putting out new material. Sohn just didn’t have the cultural cache to compete with such established performers, but this song’s resurrection proves that things of greatness will eventually get the attention they deserve.
Sohn is actually a British singer/ producer who is now resident of Austria, though he splits his time between his London and Vienna studios. This shifting between the two working locations informs his music compositions, Sohn’s songs dovetailing spaces of serene silence and compressed energy. The Wheel is minimalist production, though meticulously arranged enough to make the listener forget just how complex the piece is. It works on so many levels of sonic craft that you’ll be catching new tempo changes every time it’s heard.
As much as one admires Sohn’s multi-instrument and expert production skills, it’s his soulful vocals that make The Wheel achingly resonant. For a song that starts with the lines #I died a week ago/ There’s nothing left/ It’s caught on video/ The very last breath# it’s clear that this track is coming from a place of exhaustion and emotional attrition. Every moment of pain derived from a bad romance register in the most acute ways, totally transporting us into the headspace of a man broken by heartbreak, metaphysically assessing his situation through arresting rhythms and cadences. Gosh, this is a hugely affecting piece of music.