Compilation of the Month: Leon Vynehall ‘fabric presents Leon Vynehall’
London’s Leon Vynehall demonstrates his mastery of mood-building in his fabric mix: an absorbing experience that aims for the dancefloor with flourishes of dub, garage, electro and breaks, but doesn’t shy away from quieter, ethereal moments
DJ and producer Leon Vynehall has done a good job in evading categorisation over his 10-year career. Though his early releases for Well Rounded, ManMakeMusic and 3024 had residues of dubstep, they transposed that influence into a kind of sampladelic house. His 2014 album ‘Music For The Uninvited’ tentatively explored ambient elements, with 4/4 bangers like ‘It’s Just House Of Dupree’ offset by sun-soaked string-laden gems such as ‘Inside The Deku Tree’, while 2018’s ‘Nothing Is Still’, his first album for Ninja Tune, abandoned beats all together in favour of hushed atmospheres, crackly effects and dusty samples.
Then there were tunes like last year’s ‘Mothra’, taken from the album ‘Rare, Forever’, a twilight techno piece with garage vocal snippets and a trippy, tangential riff that meandered around your brainpan. Similarly, Leon Vynehall’s DJ sets dart all over the place, like prismatic swirls of many different genres.
Vynehall’s kaleidoscopic style was captured brilliantly on his ‘DJ-Kicks’ mix, and this new blend for fabric’s ‘presents’ series finds him again taking the best bits from everywhere. Of this mix, Vynehall has said that: “the aim of my entry into the fabric discography [is] a dynamic mix with a cohesive sonic narrative running through it, with the club in mind”. That plays out over an hour and 18 minutes of dance music in its myriad forms.
The compilation begins with the shimmering ambient dub of fresh Vynehall track ‘Climb Into The Cistern’, the spoken word vocals of Wesley Joseph offering a counterpoint to the spaciness of the production — but quickly, he switches style, with low-slung house, complete with looped disco strings and background chatter, morphing into weird psychedelic rhythms and martial drum beats. Pole’s subtle soundscape ‘Überfahrt’ bleeds into the filtered effects and Talkbox vocals of Gombeen & Doygen’s ‘D’Americana’, and then Round Four’s aquatic ‘Found A Way’, the join imperceptible.
In the process, Vynehall is creating a narrative — in this sense, the passage and influence of dub through these various manifestations. But that’s just one side of this shape-shifting mix: A2’s ‘Midsummer Misery’ is a melancholy trap track with subtle Auto-Tune, merging beautifully with DJ Deep & Traumer’s uncharacteristic breaks cut ‘La Valle La B La Deep Mix’, while, in-between more swung house grooves, there’s the hypnotic drill of Wax’s ‘Switch’.
It wouldn’t be a ‘fabric Presents’ mix without a clutch of exclusive tracks, and Vynehall coaxes friends and fam to give up some of their prized pieces. Skee Mask, Or:la, Ehua and Avon Blume feature, moving through silvery electro, strange dubbed-out frequencies and tumbling breakbeats, alongside another new tune from Leon himself. ‘Sugar Slip The Lick’ is a wicked garage skip, indicating that, when he’s in the mood, Vynehall can provide dancefloor nitro of the finest quality.
In the final part of the mix, he includes tracks from Commodo and Mala, a hint that the dubstep era from which he first emerged remains part of Leon Vynehall’s DNA, before it closes out with the ethereal song ‘Suite Pour L’Invisible’ by Ana Roxanne.
Though the mix addresses the dancefloor throughout, it’s also unafraid to step away for those quieter moments, as long as the mood is maintained. To listen to this edition of ‘fabric presents’ is to step briefly into Vynehall’s sound world — and it’s a truly absorbing and hypnotic experience.