I know it’s dating my fixation on house music, but after a lifetime of enjoying electronic and dance music in the periphery of my musical experience, Leon Vynehall and Christian Sibthorpe’s “Gave Up” is the first tune that really snared me into House Music as a centering, commanding love. It’s one of the first four tracks I bought on random blog suggestions and spent time mixing back and forth in and out of on some iPad app, seeing possibilities expand before me.
The track is insanely good.
I don’t mean to totally discredit half of Laszlo Dancehall by giving Vynehall all the credit for this, as I’ve truly liked quite a few of Sibthorpe’s tracks as A1 Bassline. But after Gave Up, I tracked down the Vynehall releases that had come before and everything that came after, and found myself wholly entranced by his sound.
In an interview with XLR8R, Sibthorpe mentioned that Vynehall is “really good at picking out great samples of drum loops and weird obscure stuff,” and it’s evident in his music. He brings textures that sound completely alien to house music from most eras, particularly in his percussion (ESPECIALLY in his hi-hats, from which you can practically hear dust fly), and he can do some truly mesmerizing things with the layering and interplay of little, subtle rhythm parts, pushing things to the boundaries of polymeter without ever deviating from the movement, the relentless flow of house music.
Most impactful, though, is how drenched his songs are with emotion. This is especially evident in his new Mini-LP, Music For The Uninvited.
An album laudable for its brevity and Vynehall’s keen awareness of dynamics, of ebb and flow and build and scrape, for his sense of what he wants to say and what he needs to say; but more still for the feeling, the inward, jumbled feelings it portrays. He’s said that the album was inspired by his mom’s mix tapes that he listened to on the way to school as a youth. Indeed, just seeing the title “Be Brave, Clench Fists" was transportive, taking me to teenage bike rides soundtracked by delicate, failure-prone hard-drive based MP3 players that were always one curb away from leaving you in silence, teleported by Mike Skinner’s otherworldly beats into a London that still exists only in my imagination. Almost every track here is exploding with that feeling, and other feelings that no matter how insistent and powerful are not always so in-your-face as that, because some feelings can’t be; that’s something that I think his songs encapsulate better than almost anyone else’s.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I’ve enjoyed learning to make it.