Album of the Week: Leon Vynehall – Nothing is Still

Leon Vynehall doesn’t do anything in half measures. He’s avoided the long player format for some time, even though his previous two double EPs, “Rojus” and “Music for the Uninvited” were considered by many to have the consistency and considered effort of an album. The weight behind those records were immense both in concept and the execution. They were built on an electronic framework lifted from club music, but incorporating various elements from diverse musical corners they were hardly functional or banal.

Concepts of gay club history and his mother’s mixtapes as well as the journey of a night out on the dance floor underpinned the records, without sacrificing the end result. The concepts might have influenced the direction of these acclaimed releases, but Leon Vynehall’s musical voice was always the attraction. There’s a thought-provoking artistry to his music, and even his 12″ releases with their clearly defined function, has always brought a cerebral dimension to House music.

On his debut album, “Nothing is Still” it should come as no surprise then that this is all in effect, and that it comes in as one of the most considered bodies of work from an artist working within the electronic club music realm. On this occasion, Leon Vynehall almost completely veers from the club music themes that underpinned previous releases for a piece that echoes the cognitive pursuits of genres like Jazz, Ambient music and even some Classical sub genres.

Ironically there is a stillness to this album, in which textures, that incorporate, samples, found sounds, and synthesisers, subside into a dream-like ether. Built on the conceptual framework of migrating people, using the story of his grandparents and their relocation to New York, we hear a narrative that flows through to the course of the  album, the theme bolstered by the track titles.  There are cues from Vynehall’s beat-driven music, like that brief interlude on “English Oak”, but these moments are fleeting, like the artist is deconstructing them into the album, where they take on the form of pure melody and texture.

Acoustic instruments thrive in Vynehall’s electronic landscape, transporting you to 1950’s New York where the sound of Jazz spill out of sultry basements into the soup of a foggy night. Our purview is fractured through jarring electronic sounds, that creek and fracture around  saxophones and pianos. The album moves at a reserved pace, but easily incorporates new themes into single compositions taking up a new thought at a whim and a will.

“Nothing is Still” falls somewhere between Floating Point’s “Elaenia” and  Nicholas Jaar’s “Space is only noise” to stake his rightful claim amongst that artistic paradigm. A subtle album execution with lofty ideals, this album is not like any other of Leon Vynehall’s records as the artist’s commitment to album format bringing a whole new dimension to Leon Vynehall’s music.