Review of Romantic Psychology 1 Album by Levantis

We all know how much producers in the electronica world love a good pseudonym, so why spoil the fun? (In this case you can do that yourself with about 3 minutes of internet searching). The vaguely anonymous Levantis isn't to be confused with the now closed bistro in Philadelphia, however - selected feedback: "Excellent food and service" - but instead is honoured with the first release on Ninja Tune offshoot Technicolour, an outlet for the prescient label's more experimental material.

Levantis Romantic Psychology 1 Album

If there's any thematic link between the album's title and the music, it's more in the Psychology part than the Romance. A collection of fragmental drones from which vaguely recognisable patterns emerge only so often, it's a work unconstrained by most traditional dynamics, fusing at its peak elements of DJ Shadow, Drew Lustman some of dubstep's most reclusive pioneers such as Burial.

This is not to say you'll be sat there with a drink in hand playing spot the influence. 'Red Blocks' for instance is one of the more substantial pieces on 'Romantic Psychology', but relies heavily on a series of doom-soaked pulses, a nightmarish visage that owes as much to 3am narcosis as it does static-spewing VHS tapes. More animated but no less bleak, the locked-in machine loops of 'Undr' are modernist brutalism personified, whilst the broken beat opener 'Exploding Boxes' is almost mellow and humanist by comparison, layered, collapsing noises trying to seperate from a finger picked synth line like an old robot whirring at a process everyone's forgotten.

It could be argued that with so little conformity, such an absence of rhythm, that 'Romantic Psychology' is barely music at all, but instead a series of collages escaped from a world of greyness and without meaning or artistry. This wouldn't begin to tell the whole story: 'Colour' is full of organic warmth and graduated feeling, recalling the playful avant garde of Susuma Yokota, whilst the musical droplets of 'Yogurt' and closer 'Slow Electronic Beat With Colour' are soulful and half speed hardcore in equal measure, neither monochrome nor orphaned. The set piece, however, is the nine minutes plus of 'Jamaican Greek Style', a meandering, Eastern influenced travelogue which ebbs through a number of slowly evolving phrases, not trying to map to a destination and as a consequence never finding one.

Games over identity aside, the usual rules clearly do not apply here. Levantis/whoever is not attempting to create structure, or to tell mindful stories, or in the traditional sense produce entertainment. 'Romantic Psychology' is no worse for all that though, and whilst its appeal may well have been consciously limited, the fact that the listener has so much to interpret for themselves may be daunting to some but an unreserved thrill to others.  


Andy Peterson

Levantis on Bandcamp -