NOTHING IS STILL, Leon Vynehall’s third album and his debut outing for Ninja Tune, absolutely elevated the British electronica explorer to the top echelons of cutting-edge creativity in the form; don’t believe me? Luxuriate in the swoon of “From The Sea/It Looms (Chapters I & II)” and then come back to me. (Oh yeah, Ninja Tune: about that vinyl repress).
That album appeared in end-of-year lists right across the boards, from Rough Trade to Resident Advisor, from Mixmag to Esquire.
He then turned his attention to his entry into the annals of DJ-Kicks, following in the footsteps of Moodymann, Four Tet and Photek; he put together a mix that melded industrial, techno, dancehall, soul and ambient – and even got Pitchfork a little hot under the collar with a classy excursion on the decks.
Now, the best news: he’s set to return with a new album for Ninja at the end of April, to be entitled Rare, Forever.
The announcement comes alongside two new tracks “Mothra” and “Ecce! Ego!”, which you can dive into below.
“Mothra” is a beautiful exercise in deeply offworld tech, chattering analogue with eyes on the Basic Channel sound and Isolée, swathed in majestic strings; collapses into silence and, with the briefest vocal encouragement, drags you into a half-lit warehouse where it’s really going down.
“Ecce! Ego!” is a slower affair; it might gesture towards the Nineties with a dopebeat break and its bpm, but that electronic texture and fizz will never let it bliss enough or grow white dreads; it’s eerie as well as thrilling and massively uplifting. Imagine that through a 10k rig, wouldya just.
Leon has this to say of the tracks, in turn: “‘Mothra’ is the euphoric unfurling of ‘something’. Muted notes fluttering free before returning to the cascade we arrived from, only now with purpose.
And of “Ecce! Ego!”: “The title literally translates from Latin to ‘Behold! Me!’ A fitting introduction to an album about my own psyche, I thought.
“It starts off where Nothing Is Still left off, but rapidly switches to something more fluid, perhaps even sinister. I kind of think of this song as “Envelopes (Chapter VI)”s fucked-up cousin.”
Mention of the album being about ego: the story is, we’re told, that upon turning 30 in LA, far from home, Leon found himself wondering about what he was trying to say in life.
Rare, Forever sees him investigating for the first time who he is as a person and artist in the now, rather than looking to the past. On the evidence presented, m’lud: gonna be a thrilling ride.