Review: Levon Vincent – Man or Mistress EP

Good things come to those who wait – a statement that rings true with every Levon Vincent release on his own Novel Sound imprint. The New Yorker who had his breakthrough a couple of years ago has not only shown the scene a new kind of heaviness built around slow, forceful grooves, but more importantly, that patience will be rewarded. By refraining from throwing out release after release, Levon has maturely avoided the downfall many of his peers are prone to. Take Maya Jane Coles for example – the young Londoner might be a talented producer, but after stepping into the spotlight last year, she has been set on releasing as much original material as possible, thus making sure to milk the hype for what it’s worth, but also – tragically – that everyone will be sick of her come 2012. Vincent, on the other hand, timed every single of the five releases on his label just right, making an impact and creating hype in 2009, only to subsequently slow things down considerably in 2010.

Enter Man or Mistress in 2011. Although one could think that Levon’s decision might have been resultant of some form of writers block, the shy producer reassured fans and critics that he was sitting on a couple of bombs waiting to be unleashed on the international dance floors. During spring, some clips of Levon dropping an explosive tune surfaced on Youtube, which, as it was later confirmed, was to be the A-side of the new EP. Man or Mistress begins with a chugging groove that is quickly complimented by a wobbly bassline, which constantly fluctuates through semi-acid movements. We are so to be teased by a second of synths, until the main snyth melody comes roaring in in all its raving glory, driven forward by skeletal hi-hats. For the next 2 minutes we are treated to a build-up that eventually climaxes in the drop of a heavy kick. A true hands-in-the-air moment. The track’s arrangement is flawless as Vincent manages to build a tension between the weirdly subdued groove of the bassline and the outgoing, overpowering synth. Like with some many other great tracks, this tension verges on the nostalgic by creating an atmosphere equally exhilarating and melancholic.

The first B-side, Making Headway, can be considered Vincent’s heaviest tune yet. Violently sharp percussive sounds rub against an uncomfortably thick sub-bass, only to be lifted by a moody melody, luring the arrangement’s other components towards total disintegration. The final inclusion, No Regrets, is more straightforward, presenting the listener with an upbeat groove and dubby stabs. Levon’s own vocal is introduced quickly, stating, in true Vincent fashion, ‘I took my chances anyway’. Anyone familiar with the New Yorker’s story will know exactly what is being emphasised with those words. Again, the track transcends tired dub house territory by constantly moving forward, bringing in and taking out various sonic elements along the way. By being softer, more reflective than the rest of the EP, No Regrets rounds things off so nicely that you know you have reached the end of the 12″. Whether you can accept that and the long wait for NS06, is a totally different matter.

Man or Mistress is out now on Novel Sound.  

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