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17 April 2014

Leon Vynehall: Music for the Uninvited (3024)

Leon Vynehall’s mini-album for Martyn’s 3024 is a really fantastic foray into deep house tunes that look to the past for inspiration. There’s a dusty cabinet element to Vynehall’s aesthetic that feels warm and familiar and almost stately, a reverence for the house music around the turn of the 90s. It should come as no surprise that one of its many solid tracks, “It’s Just (House of Dupree),” references Paris Is Burning in its sound byte samples.

Vynehall clearly has a deep respect for that music and its context, and it comes through in his handsome productions. Disclosure’s Settle was a surprise hit last year, touching on vintage acid house, rave, and early house sounds with an allegiance that was shocking spot-on (considering how young its members are), and Vynehall’s tracks here aren’t so far off that mark, either. But Vynehall’s tracks are deeper, more lush, less concerned with pop hooks or guest vocalists, less angling for the charts. And so there’s something refreshingly easy about playing through this whole thing again and again, feeling both familiar and exciting at once.

The best thing about Vynehall’s music, in my opinion, is his refusal to overly quantize everything with perfect precision. So beats and basslines hit slightly off from one another at times, sounding more handmade and human. That quality is reflected in the actual sound as well, with frequencies that might not be flawlessly mastered or mixed, but it sounds unconcerned with perfection (again, in a way that feels easy rather than sloppy) and more personal as a result. Adding a string quartet to the mix on the sly opener “Inside the Deku Tree” and the tail end of “It’s Just (House of Dupree)” only amplifies the human side of the music, with “Christ Air” offering a nice respite from the house sensibility of most other tracks in the final quarter of the release.

Its sound is closer to the spacious patience of Airhead, and it’s a nice complement to the more dancefloor-friendly sounds found elsewhere here. But the heart and soul of this release is in Vynehall’s lush arrangements and warm production, working just as vibrantly on a set of good headphones as it would on a nice system.

Buy it: Boomkat | iTunes | Bleep | Amazon

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