“Easy” – Son Lux
Slow and sparse, “Easy” is likewise dramatic and oddly arranged, creating a sense of organic space despite (or, maybe, somehow, because of) the disconcerting, palpable electronic ambiance. This is a 21st-century tone poem, in a rather literal sense, as the song unfolds as an intersecting of tones: deep tones and high tones, tinkly tones and wobbly tones, soft tones and hard tones, musical tones and mechanical tones, vocal tones and instrumental tones. The most apparently natural tones in the song—the voice, the horn sounds, the hand claps—feel processed and edgy, while the most artificial of the tones—some of the machine-like background washes, for instance—come across as intimate and three-dimensional.
Nothing moves too fast to avoid scrutiny. Often there is little more than one sound going on at a time. Yet there remains something consistently evasive about the whole endeavor, probably epitomized by the unwieldy yet compelling “horns” (I assume not actual horns) that barge in at 0:57 to oppose the very idea of “easy” even as they offer an ongoing rejoinder to that lyric. Repeat listenings seem more to augment the mystery rather than resolve it, while continuing to yield moments that the ear missed during earlier plays, such as the weird, occult-ish vocal effect at 1:38, or, of all things, the perfectly normal-sounding guitar that glides in at 3:07.
Son Lux is the performing name of Ryan Lott, a composer and producer who has worked across an impressive range of genres, from indie rock to hip hop to contemporary classical. Among his past collaborators are Sufjan Stevens, Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), Peter Silberman (The Antlers), Nico Muhly, and the quartet ETHEL. “Easy” comes from the third full-length Son Lux album, Lanterns, coming later this month on Joyful Noise Recordings.