The new double 12″ from Leon Vynehall is not an album. Great pains have been gone to ensure this point is chipped into stone, right up to the bracketed ‘Designed To Dance‘ subtitle. Presumably this is to shed any preconceptions when approaching ‘Rojus‘, insofar as approaching it with a train of thought of “this is an album. I will listen to this at home. This is for headphones only“.
No doubt there will be enthusiast arguments and musings, with forums attracting the delightfully dedicated and tediously pedantic in equal measure. However, despite the dance floor orientation, there is an easiness to the album that allows you to soak it up, neither being an emotionless pair of tool vinyl or a diluted club experience. Also there is the clever overarching concept, a considered train of thought, that sees the album book-ended by the flanging ambience of ‘Beyond This…‘ and the fuzzy wall of sound that is the climatic ‘… There Is You‘.
"Vynehall's sound has become one that is reminiscent of the recently vogue again Mood II Swing."
What becomes apparent on an end to end listen is the sheer energy that flows through each individual track that allows them to stand distinct. For a comparison. Vynehall’s sound has become one that is reminiscent of the recently vogue again Mood II Swing. It has the richness and warmth of Masters At Work at their best but also the sprightly step of Todd Terry on best form, teasing out his classic US party vibes.
This is most apparent on the early highlight of ‘Beau Sovereign‘ where a breathy exhale appears on each off-snare beat, melting into the gasping “Your love / is all I want / your love / is all I need” and discordant house stabs suddenly unfurl into a grandiose re-imagining of New York house. Captivating, ear-worm, jam… you’ll want to throw all these words at it and they will stick like glue.
"Aiming between two stools rarely grants success, yet here is Vynehall, levitating like a zen master."
There’s some acute contemporary touches on show too. ‘Wahness‘ rolls out dusty jazz samples in the fairground but it is the mutant bassline – that mangles its way between jazz and jungle – abs the hi-hats that sound like they are being played with a wood planer that hit in the subconscious. Then there is ‘Blush‘ – currently being pushed as the key track – which takes the most emphatic orchestral strings and frozen adlib wails to utterly shave anyone who dares to roll out a filter disco track and think “that’ll do.”
Aiming between two stools rarely grants success, yet here is Vynehall, levitating like a zen master. The upward trajectory from “Music For The Uninvited” through “Butterflies” and “Midnight On Rainbow” Road has reached its climax. There is even a sense of apprehension as you listen, wondering if there is even anywhere higher to reach for after this point. But this may very well be Everest’s false summit; where it is a stratospheric achievement in itself to push past the infamous Second Step and over the apparently final Third Step. Surrounded by glorious panorama, you know there is even better to come.
Rojus (Designed To Dance) is out now, order a vinyl copy from Boomkat.
- Read our review of Leon Vynehall ‘Butterflies’ EP released on Royal Oak (2014).
A1 Beyond This…
A3 Beau Sovereign
D2 …There Is You