After the club-friendly vibe of Rojus (Designed To Dance) from 2016 and the heady, conceptual Nothing Is Still from 2018, Forever is a compromise for British DJ and producer Leon Vynehall’s Rare. It shows a preference for synth-laden ambience while delivering up-tempo grooves and cathartic, Overmono-esque bursts of energy, and the two are brought together with extraordinary skill.
The record starts with the relatively downtempo Ecce! Ego !, Its subdued, swaying beat and fluorescent lead are reminiscent of Boards of Canadais roygbiv when remixed by Oneohtrix Point Neverbefore moving on to a spoken word interlude punctuated by decaying rehearsal records.
Until Snakeskin ∞ Has-Been rolls around, all spiky syncopations and dynamic wubs, rare, forever, had several influences on their sleeves, but cleverly avoid the derivative. The bass bumps, the sharp use of flanger create a disorienting effect and the general sound design is appealingly dilapidated. This makes for a definite album highlight.
Sometimes the euphoria of club music is evoked in a beatless setting: An Exhale features a shuffling, vocoded percussion that pings in unison with the track’s chord progression and becomes more and more lush until the rhythms finally fade into the background and a sea of synth and Sound leave bass in their wake. Meanwhile, Alichea Vella Amor combines gentle, noodle saxophone with a cut-up sample and bass stinato, Balearic bliss for decidedly non-Balearic times.
Penultimate track goodbye! Magnus Gabbro plays with conflicting emotions that are dissonant and sickly sweet at the same time, while a distorted drone balances the passed out synth loop. Additional sounds like violin and running water are added to the mix, but the sound remains minimalist, a tension that never dissipates.
Vynehall’s potential has always been evident, but Rare, Forever is a truly seductive record – equally poignant and hedonistic – that allows his multitude of talents to shine.