2018 has been a golden year for British electronic music. Already, we’ve seen a host of talent pushing the envelope as to what an electronic album can sound like and achieve. George Fitzgerald’s ‘All That Must Be’ addressed fatherhood and the fragility of the world, while Jon Hopkins’s ‘Singularity’ explored meditation and the effect of psychedelics via banging techno tunes. Leon Vynehall’s debut ‘Nothing Is Still’ is another laugh in the face of the assumption that dance music can’t work well as LPs, because this one is a stunner.
It’s an album borne out of grief, adventure and bold creativity. Four years ago, Vynehall’s grandfather died and his family reconvened to celebrate his life. During this gathering, his Nan produced a set of polaroids, taken in the ‘60s during the their move from Southampton to New York City, and their subsequent travels across America. He was inspired to investigate the story, one that he had never been told, and began speaking extensively with his family about the time. “I felt the need to document this period for her, and it all just sort of snowballed from there,” the producer says of the new project.
Those already familiar with Vynehall knew that a seismic project like ‘Nothing Is Still’ was inevitable. Previous releases ‘Rojus (Designed To Dance)’ and ‘Music For The Uninvited’ were stuffed with tropical-tinged house bangers, but also hinted at the potential to drop the club vibes for a cinematic masterpiece. He’s followed through on the latter. Here, Vynehall dreams in panoramic view opting for smoky beats and heavenly synth lines to make for a smattering of gorgeous arrangements.
You’ll be hard pressed to pinpoint many standout tracks on the album – and that’s kind of the idea. As the name suggests, ‘Nothing Is Still’ is a fluid, complete piece of electronic music that sways from thoughtful down-tempo beats to swelling pieces of orchestral beauty. There are particular moments of beauty, though. Like the burrowing melodies of ‘Movements’ or the hypnotic wall of sound that’s conjured on ‘Ice Cream’. The moments of clarity will likely change each time, but ‘Nothing Is Still’ requires you to lay down, tune out and allow to swallow you whole.
If his grandparents’ move across the US was turbulent but majestic journey, Vynehall has done it justice on ‘Nothing Is Still’.