On the latest offering from his ManMakeMusic imprint, George FitzGerald's curatorial skills have again proven to be as razor sharp as his production abilities, as he's picked out a pair of deep, grooving, and exceptional tunes from Brighton upstart Leon Vynehall.
For a genre that's been mined by a countless number of producers over decades and across multiple generations, trends, and sounds, house music still appears to be full of surprisingly immense potential. In large part, this is due to the fact that house has consistently been a genre which can absorb and incorporate other styles in order to spawn an endless amount of sub-genres. In the process, this constant stream of shifting hybrids attracts (and rewards) producers who seek a balance between artistic value and public enjoyment. If his sophomore release is any indication, Leon Vynehall appears to be one of the latest names to successfully add to that lineage, as both "Gold Language" and "Don't Know Why" are as adventurous as they are infectious.
Vynehall approaches house with an undeniable bass-music slant, and from the opening moments of the a-side, the tune's almost-lazy shuffle and snapshots of pitched-down vocals reveal his UK influences. A dusty procession of angelic-yet-jazzy piano chords float to the front of the procession, but appear for nothing more than a brief glimpse before giving way again to the rhythms, which, when fully fleshed out, incorporate a bouncing kick, tuned snare rolls, and a jacking clap, not to mention the piles of looping hats and shakers, whose continual cycles account for the track's shuffling feel. The recurring push-pull between the melodious moments of piano and the sunken beat move with such a natural flow that although the song's glowing chords are undeniably infatuating while present, the track's underlying rhythms are more than capable of towing the line in their absence.
"Don't Know Why" is a much more traditional affair, although it's no less intelligent in its construction. Built around a loop of sampled electric-piano chords, Vynehall wraps patterns of loose hats around the 4/4 beat, which combine with the deep, spacious synth bass for another step-worthy tune. Again, there is an impressively natural feel to the progression, as the various elements move in and out of focus, joined by the occasional synth stab or vocal flare, but never an outright melody. As Vynehall weaves together the five-plus-minute affair, he adds the faintest touches of extra percussion in seemingly random—but entirely on-beat—spots, adding a snare or an extra clap here and there, or alternately tweaking the established patterns ever so slightly. As a listener, it makes for an intriguing guessing game.
Gang Colours comes up with a surprisingly uptempo, but characteristically dense, soulful, and introspective remix to cap off the record. Still, considering the strength of the originals presented here, Gang Colours' rework is probably not likely to receive too many rinses. Its counterparts, however, are equally welcome slices of dancefloor fare, set to further push Vynehall's name into bass music's more elite circles. While it's true that the additions of "Gold Language" and "Don't Know Why" only bring the burgeoning tunesmith's total output to a grand total of four original tracks over the course of his career, we haven't heard the slightest inkling of a misstep yet, and we don't expect to be hearing one anytime soon.
Stream "Gold Language" b/w "Don't Know Why" here.