Levon Vincent, The Medium Is The Message

[Novel Sound]


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Three words I hate throwing around in dance music: “buy on sight.” Face it, it’s a phrase that’s almost never true. In a music scene where “awesome” means something exceedingly specific to every DJ with a brain cell in their head, it’s a solid bet eventually even your own personal Villalobos will cut a platter that just isn’t your style. In principle, then, I can’t call Levon Vincent buy-on-sight. But I’ll let my record bag speak for itself: each and every paper-sleeved 12″ the New Yorker has hand-stamped his name on this year has found its way in there, and dammit do I want more. Mixing the minor-key dub atmospherics of records on Modern Love or Echocord with the metallic timbre and classicism of the Ostgut crew, Vincent doesn’t push a forgotten or underrepresented sound so much as he generously drizzles some much-needed (and ultra-distinguishing) big city sass on his contributions to the recent bumper crop of quasi-white label rawness.

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“The Medium Is The Message,” Vincent’s latest for his own Novel Sound, doesn’t quite knock the wind out of you like his million-dollar anthem “Six Figures” or the astral-traveling (and golden-era Minus-aping, in the greatest way possible) “Solemn Days,” but the three-tracker leaves you wanting for very little. Pushing through the track’s front-and-center dub chords like a pack of mangy dogs, the drums on the titular A-side might be among Vincent’s most finely crafted and utterly cracking, resembling everything from whip cracks to radiator gurgle to a hyper-amplified leaky faucet in a massive basement. To my ears, this man knows no presets. The track runs like a well-oiled machine, but every so often its locomotion becomes afflicted by its own over-excitement, gurgling over in breakdown only to assert it more forcefully once it’s figured out how to reorganize.

On the flip, Vincent appears to still be on the percussion tip with “A Melody For Everyone,” where hi-hats clip and hand claps resonate for miles. But despite this all this trackiness, the title doesn’t lie: warm, smooth synths impress an ambiguous melody that refuses to simply resolve. Like DJ Jus-Ed, his occasional collaborator and patron at Underground Quality, Vincent leaves his notes open to emotional interpretation, neither wholly dejected nor completely euphoric. He sends some of this tonal subtlety to the sidelines for “I Owe You Everything.” Yes, haters: after the opening dub haze shatters into a million high-frequency pieces, Vincent drops some Autotuned vocals. He’s toyed with processed singing before (see last year’s “These Games”), but sounding something like Kanye West in the studio with Morgan Geist here, this crooning is a touch discombobulating, if not a little difficult to get behind. When you build house music as simultaneously nasty and earnest as Vincent’s, though, a little cheesiness seems like a prerequisite. “You drive me insane, you’re making me crazy,” he admits, echoing a whole host of record buyers’ sentiments for one of house music’s most exciting new talents and his choice wares. While you shouldn’t feel obligated to purchase “The Medium Is The Message” the minute its unadorned visage burns up your cornea, it’s tough to imagine you’ll leave your shop without it.

Will Lynch  on September 1, 2009 at 11:27 AM

badass… “1,000 Miles From Home” is still growing on me, too.

alesandro  on September 1, 2009 at 11:58 AM

some of the samples are playing at a crazy fast speed for me. is this happening to anyone else?

chris miller  on September 1, 2009 at 12:35 PM

it took me some time, but i’ve finally come around to levon’s sound, and this is the record that did it.

Tom  on September 1, 2009 at 1:47 PM

Agree with Alesandro, when I listen on some computers it plays the track super fast, on others it’s fine. First time it happened I thought Donnacha Costello had released a really shit track!

peder clark  on September 1, 2009 at 5:31 PM

fantastic review, your enthusiasm is infectious! (not quite enough to persuade me to pay out £10 for an import 12″ though…)

garygnu  on September 2, 2009 at 11:10 AM

You cant complain to americans for paying 10 pounds for an import, because we pay more than you do! Sometimes as much as 18$ USD! So you have it EASY

Jordan Rothlein  on September 2, 2009 at 11:51 AM

Thanks Peder. I guess this is one of those rare occasions when the price of dance vinyl actually works in my favor.

Jim Little  on September 4, 2009 at 7:50 PM

Check out his remix of Mike Dehnert’s ‘Umlaut2’ on Clone. Devastating.

dj sergej  on October 9, 2009 at 1:49 AM

uhhhh… levon levon and again levon, i love this man, and after reading his interview somewhere i loving him even more .. i called this sound “male deep” or or “muscle deep” … love and beats

Trackbacks

ALGORYTHME » Tama Sumo – Panorama Bar 02  on October 7, 2009 at 5:47 PM

[…] au bataillon et quelques uns ont squatté les posts de blogs avisés ces derniers mois (Shed, Levon Vincent, Trus’me, Kassem Mosse, etc.). On aurait pu craindre un énième mix de podcast illustrant la […]

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