Leon Vynehall – “Rare, Forever” (Ninja Tune) [April 30, 2021]
The Mozart of electronic music weaves joy, melancholy, and introspection into a mosaic of beautiful contradictions.
Who am I, and who do I want to be? These questions have visited us all at some point. They can inspire us and crush us; they can promote peace, or anguish. These questions swirled in the mind of Leon Vynehall as he wrote “Rare, Forever.” The album was an attempt “to get some answers,” according to a recent Instagram post by Vynehall. So, who is Leon Vynehall, and who does he want to be? At least one answer emerges from the album: Vynehall can be many different things at once.
In some tunes on “Rare, Forever,” Vynehall is a club-friendly producer with a knack for groove and artisan texture. In others, he’s a composer scoring life’s most vexing and poignant moments. Despite the dissimilarity of these themes, “Rare, Forever” is remarkably harmonious.
Track 3, “Mothra,” perfectly balances cinematic grandeur and club-friendly minimalism. The core sound is a simple kick accompanied by a wobbly pluck. Synth pads and orchestral strings swell in the background, building to an emotional climax that ultimately brings it back to basics: kick and pluck.
The next tune, “Alichea Vella Amor,” brings us from the club to the living room fireplace. A saxophone flurries while glowing pads float in the background, wrapping our ears in a sonic hug.
Then, just as soon we’ve recharged, “Snakeskin ∞ Has-Been” takes us back to the club. A buzzing blip creates an infectious rhythm while overheard vocal snippets and dynamic percussion fill the room with the sounds of a rave.
From “Mothra” to “Alichea Vella Amor” to “Snakeskin ∞ Has-Been,” Vynehall brings us back and forth from the club to the fireplace, creating a feeling of tension and release within one overarching narrative. It’s moments like these that prove that “Rare, Forever” is unified, even though it’s varied.
Track 7, “An Exhale,” is the beating heart of “Rare, Forever.” Although there is no kick drum, it may be the most energetic tune on the album. Slowly, all of the sounds grow and collide into one chaotic, beautiful burst.
“Rare, Forever” is not only an achievement for Vynehall – it’s a lesson to all of us: you can be many different things at the same time, and it’s beautiful.