Leon Vynehall: Rare, Forever review – warped, intense, cerebral

(Ninja Tune)
The DJ-producer’s introspective, genre-defying second album rewards engaged listening

Leon Vynehall’s 2018 album Nothing Is Still was a sleepy sensation. Although the house DJ had produced a couple of track compilations and entrancing singles, such as Midnight on Rainbow Road and It’s Just (House of Dupree), he took a giant step forward with his debut album, pulling jazz, ambient, club and chamber music into its sweeping ambit. Each song matched a chapter in an accompanying novella based on Vynehall’s family history; short films were shot. Played live, it evolved into something more warped, intense and cerebral, and some of that energy survives here.

Perhaps that’s because Rare, Forever looks inward. Although it’s as carefully constructed as Nothing Is Still, there is nothing as mellifluous as that record’s Movements (Chapter III). It’s more abstract, fractured, complex and unpredictable, fluttering across the lanes. This is best exemplified by Snakeskin ∞ Has-Been’s skittish rave, with its vertiginous drop and wasp-in-a-jar stabs, disintegrating without warning into the pastoral nocturne of its coda. Rare, Forever rewards engaged listening, though, and intriguingly it’s the classical and jazz influences that are most persuasive, particularly on album bookends Ecce! Ego! and All I See Is You, Velvet Brown, and Mothra’s majestic orchestral techno crescendo.

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