Leon Vynehall Finds Himself to Be the Ultimate Muse on 'Rare, Forever'
Published Apr 29, 2021Leon Vynehall, a consistent one-to-watch among UK producers, has long been able to channel memory into music. His debut album Nothing Is Still chartered the story of his grandparents as they emigrated to New York in the 1960s, while Music for the Uninvited drew inspiration from the mixtapes his mother would play on the way to school. But upon hitting his milestone 30th birthday, Vynehall found himself to be the ultimate muse.
Rare, Forever is a skin-shedding. Like the ouroboros pictured on its cover, the album is an act of reinvention and rebirth. Vynehall enters a new era of music; more abstract, less linear; more forward-looking, less rearview mirror. In trying to uncover himself more completely as an artist, Vynehall lets go of the cohesive core and linear progression that has largely underpinned the majority of his discography, though this isn't entirely a bad thing. Rare, Forever feels less like an album and more like a series of single, punctuated thoughts; or one man's long meditation. It's a little jumpy, and pulses with frenetic energy. He oscillates between dancefloor bangers ("Dumbo") and languid transitions ("Allchea Vella Amor").
Ever the intellect, he begins the album with "Ecce! Ego!" ("Behold! Me!" in Latin); a bold opener that lays plain its protagonist. Leaning into his perchance for classical elements, he quickly changes pace to a moody deluge of synth and bass. The album is haunted by the presence of a mysterious character named Velvet, whose being is left purposefully ambiguous and shrouded in mystery. Velvet appears on a few tracks, such as "In>Pin" and "All I See Is You, Velvet Brown", while Vynehall is careful not to provide too many details. Velvet provides an added philosophical layer to Rare, Forever, as well as a welcome foil to Vynehall's own persona.
The UK producer is a master of texture, and his sophomore album does not disappoint. He pings from house to jazz to ambient to drone to techno, all the while delighting in the kind of world-building only Vynehall can bring to the table — though it might be considered more of a demolition project in this case. Rare, Forever allows Vynehall the space to experiment and explore music beyond his DJ roots. His plunge into the more abstract and conceptual is a bold choice, and one that pays off. "An Exhale" is sheer sonic optimism bound to make a believer out of anyone, while "Mothra" details the euphoria of finding purpose. The result, across the board, is an extremely creative venture that exclaims loudly: "Behold! Me!"
It feels trite to take any album's title as literal translation, but how else to describe Vynehall's enduring presence within the industry — he is a rarity, and his music certainly has the possibility to last forever. (Ninja Tune)