Levon Vincent

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Levon Vincent (2015), 6.5/10
For Paris (2017), 5/10
World Order Music (2019), 6.5/10

New York-based, Texas-born producer Levon Vincent, who had worked as an engineer for Steve Reich, took inspiration from house music of the 1990s for the exuberant, but rather trivial, singles No More Heros (More Music NY, 2002), Complicated People (2003) and The Thrill Of Love (2004).

The psychedelic techno music of Love Technique (2005) marked the beginning of more original phase. Via the hypnotic and claustrophobic Invisible Bitchslap (2008), the surrealistic psychedelic trance of Solemn Days (2009), the martial cacophony of Six Figures (2009), and the neurotic minimalist repetition of The Medium Is The Message (2009), Vincent achieved the agonizing syncopation and polyrhythms of Double Jointed Sex Freak Parts 1-2-3 (2009), with its post-industrial side B. After the lightweight parenthesis of the bouncy Man Or Mistress (2011) and of the frenzied and African-tinged Impression Of A Rainstorm (2011), came the brainy and cosmic Stereo Systems (2012), the nocturnal and sinister Rainstorm II (2013), and the thumping ten-minute Fear, off the EP NS-10 T.Rex Edition (2015), one of his most atmospheric dances.

Vincent finally assembled an LP, Levon Vincent (Novel Sound, 2015), which is mostly devoted to a hushed form of deep house, a close relative of Aphex Twin's ambient works. Crisp synth tones sculpt the dark industrial vision of Junkies On Hermann Street while at the same time indulging in the bouncing pingpong-like melodic dance of Launch Ramp To The Sky, a sort of hysterical gamelan. The album loses some of its momentum in moody ambient vignettes, of which Her Light Goes Through Everything is perhaps the best, but ends with two strong pieces: the lugubrious Anti-Corporate Music, with gothic-industrial overtones, and the throbbing and somewhat dadaistic Small Whole-Numbered Ratios.

The relatively facile eight-minute Birds (2016) thrives on Neanderthal thumping and chirping distortions, but the galactic polyrhythms of Arpeggiator (2016) are music for imaginary futures.

Generally speaking, the compositions of For Paris (2017) feel unfinished, half baked. The mild syncopation of Baseball and the reverbed ecstasy of Slander Is Terrible could be interesting but not enough happens to justify their existence. The anemic melodies that surface in pieces like Only Good Things are perhaps the most endearing elements. A little more creative was the single The Synthesizer Cake (2018).

Vincent's third album, World Order Music (Novel Sound, 2019), combined deep house, Steve Reich's minimalism, synth-pop, Afro-jazz and much more. The exuberant and sparkling Kiss Marry Kill, the pseudo-tribal dance Reverse Stockholm Syndrome, and nods at wildly syncopated synth-pop of the 1980s a` la Dead or Alive in And It Don't Change and especially World Order Musi cement the dancefloor element. At the same time, the alien lugubrious Flowers For Algernon (presumably inspired by Daniel Keyes' 1958 sci-fi story "Flowers for Algernon") and the loud drones and African stomp of She Likes To Wave To Passing Boats explore psychological places. There's a jazzy piano sonata inside Back To The Grind and a neoclassical piano morphs into a soaring synth-pop melody in Opening, a cross of Constance Demby and Mozart. Last but not least, there are two booming minimalist concertos, The Vampire Lestat (with choir of nuns) and Ratios III (with little or no variation but obviously intended as a mathematical exercise). Vincent disoriented and reorients the listeners. At least The Vampire Lestat, Opening and Flowers For Algernon belong to his major canon.

Then came the four EPs of the Dance Music Series (2019), notably the eleven-minute Civil Disobedience (from the first one) and the virulent Anti-Corporate Music II (from the fourth one). Past the trivial Seahorse (2019), Vincent penned the Afro-gamelan Drum Circle (2020) and the Giorgio Moroder-inspired WKO (2020) before the exuberant 14-minute minimalist feast Cyclops Trx 1 (2021).

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