Levon Vincent, Man Or Mistress

[Novel Sound]

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There’s an inherent problem with dance music criticism. Does a critic judge tracks based more on their dance floor functionality or as pieces of music in their own right? The music side of criticism comes first, so generally we focus on the latter, but we all know uninspired and utilitarian records that can still cause major damage on the floor. Calling these tracks out is necessary, but those who contend that these tracks have a redeeming quality in their functionality perhaps have a point. The great thing about Levon Vincent is that this issue simply does not exist with him. He has crafted massive tracks that slay dance floors worldwide, and yet each is an engaging slice of music, simultaneously boundary pushing and classically-indebted. Novel Sound’s fifth transmission — its first since 2009 — sees Vincent release one of his biggest and best tracks so far, accompanied by two more than worthy B-side attractions.

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One aspect that sets Vincent’s music apart from his peers’ is his arrangements. I must have listened to the samples of “Man or Mistress” almost a hundred times before I got my hands on a copy, and were he a lesser producer it would be easy to construct the whole track in your head from that one-minute-thirty-second sample. My attempts at this were dead wrong, as instead of just looping a solid hook for eight minutes or so, Vincent really takes the listener on a ride. He teases at first, playing around with an elastic bass line until that synth line comes in, swirling up a storm of percussion and further rave sounds with it. It grows to monstrous heights, with the rave-lead widening in frequency space and one or two moments where the floor seems to fall out from below you as the kick deepens. A tumbling, plucked coda closes out proceedings once things have simmered down; and these multiple switch-ups are part of what make “Man or Mistress” unlike anything else out there right now.

Side B is no slouch either, with “Making Headway” offering an engaging hybrid of Trax-style house and Oni Ayhun electrical noises, while “No Regrets” is a reflective dub-house burner, complete with Vincent’s own vocals. These two tracks flesh out the EP into a fully engaging front-to-back listen rather than just a vehicle for the A-side, as they show Vincent’s malleability both in terms of mood and texture. “Making Headway” in particular sees him play with some seriously gritty textures, ones that quickly storm in and threaten to overturn the track but quickly subside — an effect that has come to be one of Vincent’s signatures. While other producers may be fine with producing populist dreck to fill dance floors, Vincent’s idiosyncratic style and captivating arrangements allows him take chances and emerge with tracks that feel like proper events. “Man or Mistress” is the kind of track that sticks in your mind for all the right reasons, and is surely one of this year’s most notable releases.

Pierre-Nicolas  on July 19, 2011 at 12:01 PM

I felt exactly the same feeling as Chris. I’ve listened to the audio samples maybe 10, 20 times, and finally didn’t bought it because yeah, “were he a lesser producer it would be easy to construct the whole track in your head from that one-minute-thirty-second sample.”

I discover the full length for the first time here, and have to say : wow ! Next time I order or go to a record, I take it immediately !

But it could be interesting to have a reflection about the choice of the audio samples for online shops. Sometimes we can hear a great moment (during 1:30) and thinking that it would be a good track, and when listening to the vinyl at home, being disappointed. And we can miss from time to time good records like Levon’s, because of a bad chosen moment of the track for the sample.

lerato  on July 19, 2011 at 3:17 PM

go levon !!!!!

DJ QU  on July 19, 2011 at 5:06 PM

Nice One Levon! Man or Mistress is a Monster!

Jabbar  on July 19, 2011 at 11:38 PM

I just noticed today that Levon spelled backwards is Novel. I dont know if its mistake or coincidence. But that alone shows that this man puts some serious soul, emotion & tough to what he releases. Maybe an LP wil come our way, but till then im satisfied with getting these babies.

Great review by the way.

Aybee  on July 20, 2011 at 3:27 AM


kuri  on July 20, 2011 at 11:38 AM

i agree with the idea of the short sample being a mis-leading indication of what the full track sounds like. that was certainly the case with Kaseem Mosse’s “untitled” on Laid last year and to a lesser extent here with Levon’s release.

@Pierre-Nicolas: the online shops generally do not choose the samples, they come from the label themselves and are sent through the distribution channels, but they almost always are the same: 90 sec snippet of 1 section of the record. are you suggesting a more patchwork representation of the record (30 sec/30 sec/30 sec)? it is a major flaw in the digital era of record shopping, that we as consumers cannot hear the whole record. but with soundcloud/youtube if you wait sometimes you can find full versions to listen to.

Daniel Jacques  on July 20, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Levon Vincent has become my favorite producer of all time. Not just because of this particular record…but I’ve been studying all of his EP’s and I must say: he’s original.

Joseph Hallam  on July 20, 2011 at 6:16 PM

One of the best this year. I also agree in regards to the size (and choice) of some of the sound files sites use, some just don’t sell it to me, then I hear the track in it’s entirety on LWE, Soundcloud etc and it changes my opinion. Surely people don’t rip the clips from Juno etc? Now I tend to check a few sources if I’m not 100% sure before buying… but sometimes buying blind is a great way to discover exciting music.

harry  on July 21, 2011 at 12:05 PM

I love his records but was really disappointed by him as a DJ recently. No dynamic, no good choice of records. No idea what went wrong but it was completely boring. Anyway “Man or mistress” seems to be really good. Will have a closer listen.

Lionel  on July 21, 2011 at 1:21 PM

I saw Levon Vincent DJ, a few weeks ago in Paris, with Steffi and a local DJ. He was the absolute highlight of the evening and he saved the party.
I will see him again this week-end at Freerotation, can’t wait.

Peter Andersen  on July 25, 2011 at 4:43 PM

that synth line..

Carolyn zuppann  on July 27, 2011 at 7:20 AM

Go Levon! He just keeps getting better. Never a dissappointment.


Little White Earbuds July Charts 2011 – Little White Earbuds  on August 5, 2011 at 10:03 AM

[…] (buy) 07. Legowelt, “Backwoods Fantasies” [Long Island Electrical Systems] (buy) 08. Levon Vincent, “Man or Mistress” [Novel Sound] (buy) 09. DJ Duke, “Summer Madness” [Self Defence Records] (buy) 10. Juju […]

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