LeonLS – Sacred
Type: Full-length album (LP)
Release date: 19 August 2016
- Digital download (self-released, 2016)
Sacred is the tenth release from LeonLS,1 a Louisiana artist who got his start in January 2016 with a series of synthwave and vaporhop releases that slowly became more influenced by ambient music as time passed. This album came out in August 2016, and it represents the last album in LeonLS’s discography before moving on to hardvapour and ghost tech-influenced cyberpunk music, leaving behind the last vestiges of vaporwave. The release is themed around the idea of returning to one’s “sacred place” with allusions toward self-actualizations.
As with previous albums, Sacred is composed of short cyberpunk vignettes that are interspersed among single-length tracks approximately three to four minutes in length. Opener “Spirit” is the album’s most engaging track, holding steady with tons of beeps and bloops with tenor percussion that sounds like area entrance music to a game from the Metroid Prime series. The album then takes a sharp left turn into dark ambient music, with “Agency Vertical” sounding as if it could have been taken from an INTERNET CLUB b-side circa-Released from this World. The latter half of the album emphasizes the ambient side, especially with the suite of tracks from “Reanimation” to “HyperSleep”. “Classic Captivation” is almost lowercase music, and “EGO-Seed” is heavily obfuscated self-samplism that recalls the vaporwave subgenre of hypnagogic drift.
Sacred has the same problem as previous release Vision 9000 in terms of length. This is an eighteen-track album in fifty-three minutes, and easily a third of those tracks (or minutes) could have been cut while retaining the album’s consistency. It comes across as an album that was fully curated for release, as if songs were created and then added to the tracklist until a threshold were reached rather than making numerous tracks and choosing the best. Several of the shorter tracks (e.g. “Reanimation” and “Honestly.Truthfully”) don’t go anywhere with their vignettes, being brief snippets of ideas that could have been more fully formed if more time were given for their evolution. Ironically, the shorter tracks demonstrate how strong that LeonLS is as an ambient artist, as those songs beg to be expanded and allow the listener to fade into the noise, but they’re over before the evanescence2 can fully take place. Additionally, the scatter-shot mix of styles (from “Spirit” to “Liberation”) gives the impression that Spirit isn’t quite sure what kind of album it wanted to be when it grew up.
Following the release of Sacred, LeonLS joined Antifur to release No Sleep in Paradise in April 2017 – his longest break between albums. No Sleep in Paradise was entirely removed from the ambient vaporwave/dreampunk aesthetics of the last few albums, being primarily influenced from the industrial techno and midtempo gabber of hardvapour. “LifeBringer” hints at this change, as it features some strong bass hits and slightly distorted electronics. Sacred shows an artist in the process of figuring himself out; although the album’s consistency suffers, it documents the process of coming into one’s own.
1. Spirit – (4:28)
2. LifeBringer – (5:19)
3. Haste – (2:15)
4. Drifter’s Dance – (3:53)
5. Agency Vertical – (2:05)
6. Gnosis Garden – (3:34)
7. What’s Left to Gain – (2:12)
8. Alter – (2:59)
9. Anima (feat. BROKEN_CANYON) – (4:31)
10. Tsunami – (3:30)
11. Reanimation – (1:11)
12. Liberation – (3:06)
13. HyperSleep – (2:28)
14. Mirage – (2:57)
15. Honestly.Truthfully – (1:43)
16. Classic Captivation – (2:27)
17. EGO-Seed – (3:12)
18. Apnea – (1:13)
1Formerly known as Leon Stratos.
2Middle school-me just punched the air.