Asher Levitas is perhaps best known as part of Old Apparatus, the acclaimed and enigmatic London experimental outfit. Over the last few years he has featured on releases for labels including Deep Medi, Houndstooth and Left Blank as ‘Saa’ with the singer Linn Carin Dirdal.
‘Lit Harness’, his first solo album, started forming as a project in 2015 alongside the artist and writer Michael Crowe who worked on the live A/V show while Asher created the music with vocalist Marina Elderton (from the Ethereal Psych band Kull) who features on the tracks.
The record follows personal themes in a time of extreme emotion: anxiety and madness but also serenity and acceptance, hence the term ‘Lit Harness’, which is a Harness that holds you in a calm place while chaos happens all around. Asher also wanted to describe the experience of the sleep paralysis, which he has had most of his life, into a musical sound world. That’s not to say the album is totally dark, but there’s intensity and transcendence here as well as an otherworldly beauty.
The music on ‘Lit Harness’ plays out in a shadowy hallucinogenic dream-like state where it’s not clear what’s meant to reflect reality or pure fantasy. Part of this process was the way the audio and visuals developed in tandem with each other, Michael passing Asher images and video, which Asher used to inject drama into the tracks and finish them.
‘Lit Harness’ could be described as ambient, but every track is filled with detail and a strange clanking drama, the hammering noises of ‘Withdrawn’ and the cold fever of ‘In The Eyes’ playing out like a dream. ‘Sheathe’ turns the record around with clouds of swirling choirs and ‘Waiting By An Open Door’ plays a hazy piano, with wind rushing through the soundfield. ‘Strongest Bonds’ has held descending chords with watery drum hits; ethereal vocals building in the background into a haze of noise. ‘Blessed Mother’s’ repeating vocals and rising chords ripple with a transcendent, gentle hopefulness, which gives way to the flatline drone and otherworldly voices of ‘Premature Exit’. ‘Anticipating Violence’ finishes the album with a sad, angry surrender, punctuated with rushes of cold hammering and reversed breaking glass.
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