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LISTEN: Asher Levitas Mix
Christian Eede , May 31st, 2016 14:49

Old Apparatus member shares a mix featuring tracks connected to his debut solo album; listen below

Asher Levitas, otherwise known as one member of the production outfit Old Apparatus, is currently preparing for the release of his debut solo album, Lit Harness, via Planet Mu.

The album draws on Levitas' experiences with sleep paralysis and the associated hallucinations, taking in the madness and anxiety as well as the peace that it can induce among sufferers. Ahead of the album's release on June 10, we caught up with Levitas to discuss the album. You can read the results of that below and check out a mix he has recorded for us above, which takes in music from Demdike Stare, Stephen O'Malley, Kara-Lis Coverdale & LXV and more.

Why the decision to work on an album solo now?

Asher Levitas: The tracks started off as ideas for a live AV installation which I was working on with my friend (artist and writer) Michael Crowe. It was the first time I've put the live aspect of a project as the main focus and didn't even originally intend to release the music. We got so into it and the project had such good momentum that I eventually sent off a few demos. Mike Paradinas got back to me and it grew into an album with some encouragement from him.

The album draws on your personal experience with sleep paralysis. How did that manifest itself in the music’s sound?

AL: Yes, sleep paralysis and also the “hypnopompic” and “hypnagogic” hallucinations that some lucky people experience just before falling asleep and when waking up. I'm not always 'trapped in' thankfully. The condition can take all kinds of weird twists - some of which are impossible to describe verbally - so music is a good way of trying to get the experiences across from that world.

I tried to create surreal synthesised soundscapes that reflect a broad range of things I've seen and felt. Some are quite confrontational and terrifying while others wash over you and offer you some numb syrupy sort of relief. I also wanted to add something real and grounding to the record, so I looked for samples that had been recorded where I grew up in North and East London, that share some sort of history with me. For instance, the sonic artifacts of Brian Harvey smashing up gold discs a few roads away from where I grew up in Walthamstow form a prominent part of one of the tracks. Thanks Bri.

Do you find it therapeutic in some way to share those experiences in musical form?

AL: In retrospect, I enjoy a good 60% of my hallucinations and even the paralysis. The intensity of those moments are sort of worth it for where it takes my thoughts afterwards. So I wouldn't say making music or sharing it works as a sort of therapy for that, but possibly as a therapy for the anxiety that causes the disorder in the first place.

It's strange. Joseph Stannard from The Wire played 'Premature Exit' from my album on their last Resonance FM show and mentioned a possible Terminator influence. I watched the original two Terminators as a 6 year old at a friend's house and I only re-watched them for the first time since this January after I had finished the record. It really hit me how much of those films had stuck with me and left a deep impression on my subconscious. I could see and hear the influence throughout this record in particular but in other parts of my life too.

Years ago when I tried to meditate for the first time I was shocked to see a fiery hell-like landscape scattered with writhing burning bodies. Sarah Connor's burning playground scene seems to have been on loop in my subconscious since I was 6. I probably should've been watching Captain Bucky O'Hare instead.

How did you go about selecting and sequencing music for this mix you have recorded?

AL: I tried to shape the mix to have a connection with the tone of my record. So I've included the manic 'Liital' by Aby Nagana Diop and 'Misappropriation' by Demdike Stare, then later on we have the serene tones of the Monks Of Keur Moussa Abbey; then into Stephen O'Malley's 'Arrival Of The Trainer' which again features a choral element but is drawing a very different energy out of it.

Are there plans for further Old Apparatus releases on the horizon?

AL: The Old Apparatus cogs have stopped turning for now, but there is good news. LTO of Old Apparatus also has an excellent album coming on our own Sullen Tone label in July, and obviously, I don't know if I mentioned, but there is my release too

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