After the Bataclan nightclub massacre in Paris on November 13 2015, Levon Vincent made a series of posts on Facebook in which he suggested that clubbers in France should arm themselves in defense against a spiraling frequency and lethality of attacks from Islamic State and other terrorists.
I’m told that there are high priced “crisis managers” for social media, people who specialize not in preventing disaster but profiting from it. Their job is to craft the “perfect” tweet or instagram post in response to horrific accidents, natural disaster or celebrity deaths with the hope that it’s embedded on hundreds of news sites, by which their client can benefit basking in the ghoulish glow of tragedy. This is apparently less outrageous than an underground music producer raised rough in a country preoccupied by violence attempting to address it, fresh from a slaughter almost unparalleled in its place and time.
After a ferocious backlash (I remember one acquaintance on social media saying he was disposing of all of his Levon Vincent albums, which is the highly nuanced response that everyone has these days), Vincent withdrew after noting with surprise that he had come to be considered a “public figure” and a part of pop culture.
It’s not my choice to rehash this again. Vincent himself has referenced this in a new LP project called For Paris, in which he attempts to illustrate his feelings toward the event and in a broader sense his reaction to it and our reaction to his reaction and his reaction to that…
That’s about the shape of it: the social media vortex is an insatiable mouth sucking down sincerity and spitting up snark. Feeding it as Vincent did then and does now with a lengthy post announcing this album and his hope to invigorate a worldwide peace movement with it seems absurd to me (a person that embraced, indulged and then ultimately recoiled in horror at what social media has become and what has become of us when we plugged the management of our lives and our emotional health into it). But this is a project he is addressing with a terrible sincerity and it deserves to be heard on that level.
Most producers in 2017 work in isolation, but Levon Vincent’s distance from his peers has always seemed more profound. For Paris feels like a man alone attempting to reach out, his hand seeming to grasp and feel out another as the album’s artwork shows. “Kissing” introduces the project with the kind of epic scale and grandeur you would expect. If one were to make a film about the horrifying events in and around Paris on the night in question, the dramatic fade-in and grasping tension of “Kissing” couldn’t be more appropriate for the soundtrack: claustrophobic, close, pulsating with anxiety. Some of the tracks feel oddly out of place – “Baseball” is interesting, there is nothing wrong with it but it’s hard to figure out thematically why it would follow “Kissing.” “Hope For a New Global Peace” is a piece for strings, beatless, in places extremely moving. “Only Good Things” is I think the best track on here musically and for the dancefloor.
For Paris probably falls short of Vincent’s ambitions – when you read his post about it, I think it would be impossible to do so – but it does credit to his name that he’s willing to set his sights so high.
Levon Vincent: For Paris
1. Levon Vincent: Kissing (6:36)
2. Levon Vincent: Baseball (5:16)
3. Levon Vincent: Late Reflections (7:11)
4. Levon Vincent: Hope For New Global Peace- In 3 Parts (8:56)
5. Levon Vincent: If We Choose War (7:42)
6. Levon Vincent: Slander Is Terrible (7:15)
7. Levon Vincent: Only Good Things (8:49)
8. Levon Vincent: If We Choose Peace (5:16)
9. Levon Vincent: The Candlelight (3:38)
10. Levon Vincent: Dancing With Machiavelli (4:34)