Levon Vincent’s debut album, an eight-sided, four-disc techno concoction of caustic challenges, intense rhythms, and hypnotic melodies, is an often sparse homage to doing things your own way.
The legendary producer released the album for free online at first, and later on vinyl with a series of various cover art.
Ultimately, Vincent keeps it simple: It’s about the music, stupid. Screw all of the frothy and superfluous garbage. Give me the black coffee, he says (maybe).
Amid all of that the record exists in a particular place in the spectrum of things. When I listen to it I’ll feel like I’m living in two worlds.
One is with my head in the clouds, blissful and airy, lapping up crisp, cool moisture, and feeling happy, hopeful, and like good people exist.
Another part of me is simultaneously in a much darker place, feet stuck slowly walking along a muddy path, marching furtively through damp, moldy air, and scraping my shoulders against luminescent blood, painted on the walls of a narrow catacomb, on my way to own up to something understood societally as illegal — but is really only slightly morally reprehensible.
That balance plays out sometimes when pairing one type of song with another, but the flirtation often happens on the same cut. Tracks like “Anti-Corporate Music,” “Small Whole-Numbered Ratios,” and the 11-minute “Launch Ramp to tha Sky” serve up some dirty, throbbing brilliance with plenty of bright-shoots.
“Anti-Corporate,” the best song on the album, has a bright and catchy synthesizer lead that picks up half-way through a spectacularly rhythmic and haunting track, coated in writhing and skittering specters and soupy phantasms. The battalion of pizzicato strings on “Ratios” slaps its way beautifully over the flangellic and sparse kicks. “Launch Ramp” has a chilled out xylophone lead that sets some relaxing, modest goals before unleashing a rude surprise.
“Confetti” isn’t festive so much as it is a segue of seduction tying together an after-dinner glass of tempranillo to giving the bed, the dresser and several other home furnishings to good use. Along those lines, its metallic, aloof melodies conjure up Enigma, tapping into Michael Cretu’s academic adventures into that realm where the sacred and the profane both serve the same goal.
Closer “Woman is an Angel,” a dark techno number, seems to either be an ironic name — the woman in question is perhaps not an angel at all — or maybe it means Vincent’s angels are found among those who are more authentic about their demons. Perhaps the true demons, then, are those who strong-arm the world with false charms and manufactured piety. The song is also obviously a great complement to his “Woman is the Devil” cut from a few years ago.
This debut epic from techno and house hero Vincent is ultimately a masterful work about the dual-sided nature of people: There are no angels or demons, sinners or saints, but a bunch of people walking around with varying degrees of both parts. It’s like the Kinsey Scale for measuring virtue and vice.
He does all of this using an ethic that recalls the contract written in blood that formed the tenuous basis for Factory Records: Making a living for yourself, doing what you love, without the suffocating confines of being overly formal. I can get behind that.
You can buy it at a bunch of places. Discogs is one of those avenues. Stream “Anti-Corporate Music” below.