“Immerse Yourself…But Don’t Lose Yourself!” – ‘Vodälse’ by LEVT

LEVT is an ambient, post-rock project led by Sväro Stungett, a musician who, having previously felt restricted in band situations, is relishing in the creative freedoms available to him as a solo artist. LEVT’s debut release ‘Vodälse’, is symbolic of this change in Stungett’s career; the albums concept explores the journey of birth which, on a more personal note, mirrors the birth of a new musical chapter for Stungett. Influenced by the likes of Oceansize and Sigur Rós, LEVT specialises in creating unsettling soundscapes, often dream-like in style but with a subtle underlying menace which sometimes reveals itself in the form of distorted guitars that tear their way through the ambience – this truly is an immersive experience!

Due to the repetitive nature of this style of music, development is the key ingredient that grounds the listeners attention. LEVT expertly develop each of their songs by gradually adding new layers to the main idea of the piece until the idea has run its course or there is an obvious climax – this is achieved in contrasting ways. Nevertheless, a commonality prevalent throughout the album is the reliance on the guitar as a source of experimental sounds. Often, Stungett will add layer upon layer of guitar parts, drowned in reverb and delay, all playing different melodies. The result is epic; the polyphonic three part guitar introduction to ‘Stödangur’ creates an interesting soundscape of intertwining guitar melodies all fighting for dominance. This tension only then resolves when a distorted guitar makes clear the dominant force in this song – the addition of a choir gives the piece a huge sound as it builds toward a euphoric climax. Similarly, ‘Utryensrömmnum’, a more up-tempo track, features a battle between the left and right guitars as they develop throughout the piece; at times it feels like a call and response but then close to the end it turns into a power struggle as both parts play contrasting melodies high up on the fretboard. This struggle is underscored by a purposeful drum groove and, what sounds like, a very distant, mellow choir effect repeating a spooky three note pattern. A great example of the underlying menace I mentioned earlier, and to think that the song begins with a gentle and calming shimmering effect – unsettling is the word! The opening ten minute track ‘Havsjö’, again makes use of this twin guitar sound but at one point in the song, as the main guitar idea is played, Stungett adds some effects to a second guitar part that almost makes it sound like a keyboard instrument (if I am hearing it correctly). It makes you think about the real potential for experimentation that the guitar presents – I’m glad that Stungett has opened up this potential! 

In contrast, the third track more or less strays away from ambience and atmosphere and instead Stungett shows off the heavier side to his guitar playing. ‘Overägno’ almost borders on doom metal – yes that’s right, it almost sounds like a call to the Devil himself! The only ray of light is a delayed guitar part at the centre of the mix, adding some much needed treble to this bass heavy sound. However, it’s not all doom and gloom; the halfway point sees rid of the distorted guitars in place of a clean and quite jovial guitar melody. From there, the melody develops until we reach another euphoric climax. The final track, ‘Avxluta’, lends itself to a similar metal-inspired attitude in its second half. The first half is a slow burner, initially relying on a guitar melody countered by a banjo melody that develops for the first half of the song. A sort of ghostly effect weaves in and out of this section, at times being so intense that it feels obtrusive and uncomfortable. The sudden entrance of a gritty guitar melody aided by some chugging guitars, kicks off the second half of the song. The rest of the song stays at this sort of heavy dynamic, apart from a brief albeit chilling moment of quiet where we hear whispering voices – very spooky, but then again, if I was to sum this album up, the word spooky, along with unsettling, tense and atmospheric, would fit nicely!

What a journey! From gentle shimmering effects and majestic choirs to angry, distorted guitars and melodies fighting for dominance in these soundscapes where everything merges – each song is a journey in its own right, starting off as a bare idea that transforms into an uncontrollable beast! Stungett, whose identity remains concealed by an oryx mask, deserves much credit for composing and recording all of this by himself but he hopes to come together as band for live performances (when they can resume of course). If you want to hear more of LEVT, you can find their recent single called ‘Lifbrü’ that acts as an interim release between ‘Vodälse’ and a follow up album in 2021. And until then, I think I may repeat a few of those journeys!

Written by Dominic Sanderson

You can find LEVT on Instagram and Facebook. ‘Vodälse’ is available on all major streaming platforms!

Published by Prog Rock Review

Nik is a musician and music journalist. He serves at founder and editor of Prog Rock Review, a community-based platform highlighting progressive rock, old and new. Dominic Sanderson is the chief writer for Prog Rock Review. He is currently studying music and literature in university, and has a huge passion for prog. He loves composing and performing, with his main instruments being the guitar and vocals. He also enjoys writing music reviews and is working on building a portfolio of written work on the music of various prog bands.

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