music for the uninvited

Leon Vynehall – ‘Music For The Uninvited’ (3024)

Debuting on the soon to be discontinued Well Rounded Housing Project label only two years ago, Leon Vynehall has found himself releasing on various Dance music outlets at a pretty impressive clip ever since. Offerings on Will Saul’s AUS and George Fitzgerald’s ManMakeMusic came equipped with the requisite floor ready qualities one would expect, but there was always a level of artistry which distinguished Vynehall’s music from the often more functional work of his contemporaries. An adolescence spent listening to Post-Hardcore and Funk resulted in relatively late exposure to electronic music, and as such his music has retained an attractively original quality that is one of its biggest strengths. Returning to Martyn’s 3024 imprint for the six track ‘Music For The Uninvited’ EP, Vynehall unloads the kind of fully realised body of work that his discography thus far has tantalisingly alluded to.

In an interview with RBMA earlier in the year, Vynehall spoke of his desire to leave an ‘artefact’ with this record and across its duration, the months of deliberate thought and careful planning that have gone into it are abundantly apparent. Clearly investing much in the romantic notion of creating an immersive and transcendent listening experience, Vynehall has meticulously interwoven a patchwork of deeply personal samples and references. A self professed video game obsessive, he cribs both the title and general ambience of his opening track from the ‘Deku Tree’ suite of Koji Kondo’s much loved soundtrack to ‘Legend of Zelda’ for a gorgeously dewy eyed intro. Cut price violin samples eventually melt into a decidedly more luxuriant arrangement as twinkling synths soon arrive and propel things towards a wonderful beatless swell.

Second track, ‘Good Thing’ heralds the EP’s first ‘dancefloor’ moment, as Vynehall affixes a swinging bassline to a buoyant vocal sample, with the eponymous refrain repeated to sound akin to a spiritual mantra. Marking the first appearance of a recurring feature of the whole release, ‘Good Thing”s  irregular groove flits in and out of view to give the track the kind of unqantized spontaneity favoured by the Deep House demigods of the Motor City. ‘Be Brave, Clench Fists’ follows and with it comes a reappearance of the lush strings found on the opening track. Approaching a level of string sampling excellence hitherto only occupied by Pepe Bradock’s untouchable classic ‘Deep Burnt’, here Vynehall layers on some distantly tinkling keys before underpinning the tune with a subtly insistent bassline. As the track comes to its denouement the strings transform into an atonal screech and approach crescendo before collapsing into themselves and segueing naturally into ‘Pier Children’. Drifting ambient tones soon give way to a funky mid range synth and stunted vocal samples, with the interplay between these two elements and the percussion making for a real hip shaker. Tactfully reintroducing the pads at opportune moments to layer it with warmth, Vynehall shows his impressive command of dynamics.

Leading off ‘It’s Just (House of Dupree)’ with a vocal sample detailing the different ‘Houses’ that comprise NYC’s infamous Ballroom scene serves to reinforce Vynehall’s stated intent of making a record that pays heed to House music’s outsider past-something referenced in the EP’s title as well. The tune that follows unfolds over 8 superbly executed minutes to reach continual peaks of unbridled euphoria via the addition of several craftily picked samples. The flourishes from The Isley Brother’s early 80’s lover’s jam, ‘Don’t Say Goodnight’-perhaps best known for its interpolation in Dilla’s ‘So Far To Go’, features as the opulent garnish to the treated, sampled, yelps of ‘this is good!’ that peppers the track. Sat atop a purring engine-like bassline and bouncing percussion, the parts coalesce to create an irresistibly upbeat groove.

Vynehall bookends the record with two wistful jams in ‘Christ Air’ and ‘St Sinclair’. Breathy sampled vocal snippets, a languid bass part and a myriad of other effects pottering around casually in the background make the former a snapshot of lightly blissed out reverie delivered via some highly interesting composition. The latter meanwhile is a loosely jazzy jam a-la Floating Points that uses occasional yearning guitar licks, bass riffing and splashes of organ to play out the EP in musical fashion.

Hyperbole is the default vernacular of the music press-where every thumping bassline or satisfying drop is heralded as the second coming of Aphex Twin or this generation’s answer to Daft Punk. Taking his time to shut his ears to often deafening din of music industry nonsense and make an EP that is considered and fully realised, Vynehall has fashioned something that for once is fully deserving of whatever wordy exultations (including the one you’ve just read of course) come its way. Tuneful, intimate and original-‘Music For The Uninvited’ should earn Vynehall his dues as one of the most talented producers in the country.

‘Music For The Uninvited’ is out now on 3024, buy it here

Christian Murphy