LWE Podcast 149, contributed by Levon Vincent, was a journey through his record bag stocked with favorites new and old. Be sure to add it to your collection before it’s archived this Friday, November 22nd.
The same water that makes NY’s pastrami and bagels so renowned seems to affect our house music as well, as Fabric 63, mixed by Levon Vincent, catches a group of musicians at the height of their powers.
The latest record to receive Juno’s largess tries to seem anonymous in spite of its striking, purple marbled vinyl and a garrulous press sheet that makes The Freeze/The Melt Down seem like a blind item: Which boldfaced U.S. house producer drew dancers to the booths at Panorama Bar and Fabric with this incognito platter?
Although Levon Vincent has seen his profile rise dramatically over the past 18 months he’s anything but a newcomer. Having spent nearly a decade making house music after many years studying music generally, Vincent’s recent fame can be seen only as welcome payoff to someone who has spent his fair share of time in the trenches. Enmeshed in the much-discussed revitalization of New York house with his own imprints, Novel Sound and Deconstruct Music (with Anthony Parasole), alongside Jus-Ed’s Underground Quality stable, he blends his influences into a thick, rich soup of raw house music that finds him wearing his heart on his sleeve. LWE caught up with Vincent in Paris before his appearance at Rex Club kicking off a month of touring around Europe to discuss everything from Thriller and Discreet Music, the newest musical instrument in his arsenal, and the struggles of being a vinyl proponent in America.
Dance music enthusiasts of all kinds were treated to a wide variety of tracks from Levon Vincent last year: minimalist peak-time anthems (“Solemn Days”), vocorded house jams (“I Owe You Everything”) and dub-techno freak-outs (“Games Dub”). With his newest release on his own Novel Sound, the wonderfully titled Double Jointed Sex Freak, I find myself returning to an increasingly common question for each LV release: What the hell is this? With the help of his muse Rebecca (“a true athlete”) Levon has managed to out freak himself, taking the varied sounds of his breakout year and throwing them into one big messy pile of dance-music bliss. Other producers might provoke skepticism by claiming, “It is the best record I have ever made — my proudest moment!” m, Levon’s enthusiasm rings true; and even compared with his top notch back catalog, it’s hard to argue Double Jointed Sex Freak is anything less than the work of a man realizing his full potential.
With DJ Jus-Ed on permanent impresario/wood-cutting duties and Levon Vincent releasing a near-constant stream of contemporary classics, New York house’s flagship positions look pretty well locked-down as 2010 gets cracking. It’s a bit more of a tossup for the underdog slot. Fred P., whose Black Jazz Consortium long-player and singles for his own Soul People Music imprint were among 2009’s most coveted dance records, makes for something of an easy bet, though I can’t deny his talent at cranking out tense, minimalist house trips. And Anthony Parasole, who’s already proven himself a formidable selector, will almost certainly raise his asking price when his first solo production credit drops later this year. But I’m throwing my lot behind DJ Qu, the New Jersey man and former dancer born Ramon Lisandro Quezada. His latest, “Party People Clap” for Vincent’s and Parasole’s Deconstruct Music, has a whole lot to do with it.
It’s likely we all know the events and stories for which 2009 will be remembered: global recession, the first year of Obama’s presidency, a seemingly endless stream of celebrity deaths, the stolen Iranian and Afghani elections and Japan’s historical shakeup, and Twitter’s penetration into almost everything. But when we look back at the year and remember the dance music artists whose significance was widely felt in 2009, whose faces and vinyl sides will spring to mind? This is tricky territory to parse while still standing inside its confines, but a worthwhile pursuit nonetheless — if for no other reason than to see how accurate I am a few years down the line. The producers I chose made artistic decisions whose deep impact is still creating ripples now, perhaps into 2010. My list overlooks many influential artists (special apologies to STL, Fred P., Moritz Von Oswald, Appleblim, et al.) and shouldn’t be seen as necessarily an endorsement of each selected, but rather acknowledgment of their importance to the dance music climate created this year. Together yet apart, these individuals contributed to the broader narrative none of us can yet decode; here’s my attempt to make some sense of it.