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Levon Vincent releases debut album for free

Mike Warburton took in Levon Vincent's hugely anticipated debut album. Find out what he made of it, here.

Mike Warburton

Date published: 10th Feb 2015

Photo: Levon Vincent

Underground techno and raw machine led house are without doubt going through one of their healthiest eras yet, thanks to an unheralded crop of pioneers that refuse to fall into the trap of following transitory fads and trends.

One of the artists that continues to inspire a generation of forward thinking new producers is New York native Levon Vincent, who since arriving on to the scene back in 2002 has consistently marched to the beat of his own drum machine.

Listening to a new Vincent track can be a challenge in itself, as it nearly always involves a few times before, bang, it hits you and its masterfulness is revealed.

Whether he's laying down sparse, strung out monsters ('Revs/Cost' above) or prime time club bangers ('Man Or Mistress' below), Levon's expansive range and dexterity is always delivered with careful precision, each fragment agonised over, resulting in an average of one single release per year. In short, he's the Stanley Kubrick of electronic music. 

So it's with huge anticipation that Levon dropped his debut album on his own Novel Sound imprint last night, but what has surprised us is how he's released it.

Preceding the deluxe four vinyl set, complete with unique, original artwork for each individual package, Levon has dropped his self titled long player on WeTransfer, free to download for a limited time only, with the attached proviso:

'This is music for the ugly ducklings of the world. Music for swans. If you are you're a member of the rat race, climbing around a dumpster with the other rats vying for power, you may of course listen, but know - this is not music for you. This is action against you.'

Download Levon Vincent's album here.

Rooted loosely in plodding, atmospheric dub techno, and lush deep house, the weight of the opening kick drum on the aptly named 'The Beginning' keys us in to the menace Levon is so adept at delivering.

Cheery, rousing synths float on top of the crushing weight underneath, sounding like Legowelt or Vangelis on a stripped back tip but with washes of weirdness and deranged brilliance that could only come from the Novel Sound boss.

Melody takes pride of place on 'Phantom Power', with awkward chord changes held together by an almost inaudible beat that simply pins together his, at times challenging, keyboard riffs. Industrial strength trudging is displayed on 'Junkies On Herman Strasse' - a bleak, ferocious beast bound to induce nightmares amongst the naive.

Sunny Marimba notes buffeting above a cinematic tones are present on 'Launch Ramp To Tha Sky', before Levon gets even more filmic with the beatless ode to his deceased feline on 'For Mona, My Beloved Cat, Rest In Peace' - the beauty of the track guaranteed to make even the stoniest of hearts crumble.

The whispering, breathy dub techno on 'Her Light Goes Through Everything' is a definite highlight, as is 'Black Arm', another haunting piece of majesty on an album that seems to get better and better as it goes on. Is this just us tuning into Levon's vision, or are the tracks actually getting better? Who knows. Either way it works; really well.

The final quartet of tunes employ everything from manipulated vocal stabs to watery sound effects, most skilfully delivered in 'Anti Corporate Music' (above), an important record on the album which falls in nicely with his release statement.

'Small Whole-Numbered' is an unashamed exercise in aggressive stomping techno that in the last furlong adds a swathe of hi-hats and percussion to bring a bit of groove into the fold. 

Album closer 'Woman Is An Angel' sees him flip one of his best loved records ('Woman Is The Devil') and deliver an uplifting, chunky, synth laden beast that instantly demanded a repeat listen. 

His anti corporate message is there for all to see, mirrored in the forward thinking manner of its release and undiluted music therein - the message seems to be: forget money, listen to the music. If you love it, you'll buy the record for its high end sound quality and exclusive art, if you don't then don't. Refreshingly sensible on every level.

On a musical level, it's an absolute triumph of modern electronica, one that will surely stand the test of time in a scene that at times has a propensity to play it safe.   

Head here to check out Levon Vincent's upcoming gigs.