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As 2012 comes to a close, Levon Vincent drops a first release of the year via his own label, the highly acclaimed Novel Sound. Since its inception in 2008, the imprint has served to project Vincent’s very particular brand of deep, dubby house and techno across seven 12” singles. The medium in this instance is strictly vinyl, and you’ll be hard pressed to find copies of any previous Novel Sound release in shops today, as NS seems to have achieved the kind of ‘buy-on-sight’ reputation that marks it as one of the most consistently excellent labels of the latter noughties.

Way back in April saw the only other Levon Vincent release of 2012 as Vincent took the reigns for Fabric’s mix CD series in ‘Fabric 63.’ The mix opens with the recent ‘Earth Calls’ by Joey Anderson (a favourite of ours at Hush House) and sprawls across an hour and a half as Vincent pays homage to the truly individual sound of New York contemporaries such as Anderson, DJ Qu and Black Jazz Consortium. The mix is masterfully crafted and certainly a contender for best of the year, as ‘Fabric 63’ lacks the orthodox progression of traditional mix CDs – the tempo rising and dipping in a seemingly arbitrary manner, with wide open soundscapes constantly interchanging with claustrophobic and gritty percussive segments. Perhaps the aim here is for the DJ to assert himself on his audience. In ‘Fabric 63,’ the listener remains firmly within the control of Vincent himself as he seeks to exhibit the sounds that define Levon Vincent the artist. Viewing the mix as such, ‘Fabric 63’ could rightly be considered a magnum opus of sorts, as Vincent presents to us an impressive conclusion – the culmination of a sound that has been in development since his first release in 2002.

Fabric 63 - Levon Vincent [Fabric]

Novel Sound’s latest release fits neatly with this theory, as Vincent shows himself to be fully comfortable with the unique brand of house/techno hybridity both he and his peers have created. The A-side, ‘Stereo Systems’ is a track that featured in ‘Fabric 63.’ Given an entire side of wax to stretch across, the track’s shuddering kick-drum pierces through an astral soundscape sculpted with the Roland Space Echo Vincent is so fond of, as percussion flickers and twinkles brightly all around it. There comes with this the expectancy of a breakdown, for the soaring meteoric thud of the kick to explode and fragment into something new, yet save for a final heady flourish near the very end of the track, ‘Stereo Systems’ remains for the most part an explorative piece not typically suited to the dancefloor. If anything, to me this signals Vincent’s mastery. He understands every sonic aspect of his music and thus pushes and pulls listeners into any direction he chooses, as in the case of ‘Stereo System’s relative sparseness even the tiniest stabs of noise evoke a reaction, the track building expectantly towards the shower of sound that signals Armageddon.

Novel Sound 07 - Levon Vincent [Novel Sound]

On the flip, ‘Together Forever’ is a more purposeful and driven affair. Vincent ups the ante a notch and is here determined to get feet shuffling to fiercely aggressive syncopations. I’ve already mentioned how in ‘Fabric 63,’ Vincent is able to drastically alter tempo and mood when he sees fit. Within this latest release there is much of the same. The stifling and urgent call-to-arms of ‘Together Forever’ sees a drastic transition from the wide-open astronomy of the title track. The same could be said of ‘Specks Jam,’ as the down-n-out sleaze of speakeasy double-bass oozes an entrancing groove amongst the breathless gasps of thrill-seeking New Yorkers. Within this track, Vincent’s swinging, sultry bass is quilted beneath a sumptuous layering of warm, dubby chords. Thinking about it, both tracks on the B-side could be labelled as DJ-tools, though of course anyone familiar with Levon Vincent will appreciate that this term doesn’t denote any sense of convention to either track. Vincent is keen to assert upon us his own unique take on looping, driving house grooves.

It may have taken all year, but the first Levon Vincent record of 2012 was definitely worth waiting for. I can’t emphasise enough the powerful singularity of the sounds put forward on Novel Sound 07, as the release signals yet more evidence (if it were needed) of a musician at the very peak of his powers. What’s also quite interesting is the landscape in which Vincent makes his music. As the prevalence of house and techno rises ever-further to the forefront of public consciousness and the surge of EDM in general appears unabating, Vincent seems happy to burrow further and deeper into the unique, inimitable sound of himself and his close contemporaries – the kind of which was demonstrated wonderfully at the beginning of the year through ‘Fabric 63’. The result is genuinely staggering and will ensure future releases and DJ gigs are as hotly-anticipated as ever before.

Copies of NS-07 appear sold-out everywhere, unsurprisingly. If you missed out, go get it at Discogs.

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