"Mastering engineers hate me," says Leon Vynehall, explaining his preference for beats that don't slot neatly into place and frequencies that are raw around the edges. In that case, their loss is our gain. No pun intended — it's not like the U.K. producer is redlining all over the place. But the slippery, swinging rhythms and hardscrabble sonics are precisely what make Vynehall's take on house music so appealing.
At its core, his music is all about juicy chords, soaring vocal samples, and buoyant atmospherics. The grit is just a natural byproduct of his sound sources — well-worn vinyl, busted snare heads, drum machines seemingly on the verge of overheating — and serves to remind us that you can't have the peach without the fuzz. With his new mini-album Music for the Uninvited, he pays tribute to the warm, fuzzy sounds of the cassettes he grew up listening to in his mother's car.
Fittingly, Vynehall has never sounded sweeter than he does here. The record kicks off with a string quartet, for one thing — that's the keening "Inside the Deku Tree," which takes after the lyric sensibilities of Metro Area and Floating Points — and the sparkling-but-subdued "Christ Air" tears a page from Flying Lotus' blissed-out dream journal. There are plenty of proper club tracks, too, but in contrast to the murky depths explored on his recent Open EP, they're shot through with light and color, equally appropriate for cutting shapes or walking on air.
Music for the Uninvited is out March 17 on Martyn's 3024 label; listen to all seven songs right here.