By Joe Higham
Following on from Headbrain and Dorota posts one may ask the question ... is their much of interest to be found in the 'never mind the tune, watch my technique' jazz (Berkley, Banff, Conservatory) movement? Or maybe you're wondering whether Peter Brötzmann or Matts Gustafsson could blow a little louder? Or should you just dig out a rock album and turn up the volume, then look no further 'Levity' is here!
As Headbrain and Dorota weren't really jazz albums (and who cares, if the music is good and pushes at boundaries) this isn't a jazz album either. However Levity's previous albums were, although slightly left of center at that. The album confirms that this band is a restless searching unit, constantly looking for new takes on music.
This is Levity's 3rd album to date and a very nice one at that, an album with many elements coming together in a singularly mature way. 'Afternoon Delights' comes at you from all sides in a similar way that early Genesis or Pink Floyd albums did, touching on jazz but only its elements. From the album's opening track 'Clap your hands, Pikku Myy', a prolonged intro to what you're about to hear (almost like Genesis' 'The Lamb lies down on Broadway'), to the closing 'Everyone survived', the music never stops. 'Clap your hands, Pikku Myy' also introduces you to the sound world you'll be visiting for the next 52 minutes, a slightly old sounding piano (later on synths, loops etc), heavy bass sounds, and drums that could be post-rock meets free-jazz! This very original mixture of beats and grooves, melodies and sound effects is quite unclassifiable, at times minimal and at others dense. Listeners of pure jazz should be wary (or embrace) the music which has little (if any) in the way of solos as such, however one can hear immediately the complexity of the music which seems to have a balance between planned and loosely improvised sections which constantly surprise.
You could comment on each individual track, but since the whole album seems (to me) to be composed and recorded as one, it makes little sense to deconstruct something that has been so carefully put together. Every possible angle is taken on this music from old sounding synths to hard rocking drums, trip-hop grooves, etherial floating ghost music, distorted bass melodies, and the occasional traditional - almost - piano trio, something which actually has to be heard to be believed.
Tags for this excellent album could be - Bad Plus meets Genesis meets Tortoise meets Deerhoof meets ... to name a few.
Levity is : Jack Kita (kbds), Piotr Domagalski (bass), Jerzy Rogiewicz (drms).
Buy from either (download) Bandcamp or (buy a hard copy at) Serpent.