Inexpressible Infinity - Levitation Orchestra (Album Review)
Updated: Nov 4, 2019
Album Rating 4.5 / 5
Live Potential 5 / 5
Solo Performances 5 / 5
Diversity in Songs 3.5 / 5
Favourite Songs Clairevoyance, Mystical Yang
London-based 13-piece Levitation Orchestra arrive onto the scene with a fantastic debut LP Inexpressible Infinity, which is an extravaganza of meditative and spiritual moods and grooves that harness jazz, folk and fusion influences.
The project is a collective ritual of creativity as their values are beautiful, simple and pure. They compose music collectively in the spirit of communal ownership (none of the members are individually responsible for the orchestra's compositions) which allows for a unique energy to emerge between them. The musicians create the compositions, practice the material through four rehearsals, then play four unique concerts, then head to the studio to record the material; Inexpressible Infinity is the second of such cycles recorded.
And what a treat it is to hear such authenticity throughout the record on the basis of their specific musical process. Formed by Cykada and Where Pathways Meet trumpeter Axel Kaner-Lidstrom, the group features an array of musicians both well-established and coming through the London jazz scene. The core elements of what this project produce in their music comes from the harmonising vocals with the flutes and horns section, as the strings section of the harp, violin and cello add great textures to compliment the rhythm section.
'Odyssey' introduces these musicians wonderfully as Sophie Plummer and Zakia Sewell (vocals) harmonise beautifully with the woodwind and brass, whilst Marysia Osuchowska's harp wallows and allows for Hamish Nockles-Moore on the bass to strut alongside a tribal tom pattern on the drums from Harry Ling. As the main riff enters there is a delicate sense of sinisterness and mysteriousness before Roella Oloro's jaunty keys solo comes through. The saxophone solo is simply stunning as it shrieks and almost combusts before another breakdown comes in an almost rock-feel (reminiscent of the jazz-rock tune 'Blessed Relief' by Frank Zappa).
My two favourites from the album are both impressive in their own way. 'Mystical Yang' has a seductive bass line that bounces through ever more with an outstanding riff that accompanies it from the rest of the group, whilst Deji Ijishakin and James Akers sax solos gush out gorgeously as the orchestra comes in and out of the grooves adding depth. 'Clairevoyance' is the fitting title of a track that utilises the strings section and Lluis Domenech Plana on the flute in a completely relaxed, serene style that really feels like you are connecting into the ethos of the group, as the vocals guide you through the spirituality that voyages through these peaceful six minutes.
'MF One' acts as the heaviest number on the LP as the jazz is thrashed out in this powerful interlude, whilst 'A Small Truth' acts as a saxophone monologue with soft murmurings that get agitated and crunchy and swirl into a climax that allows this interlude to flow seamlessly into the final track 'Twin Serpents'. This song's harmonising vocals connect with the saxophones again whilst Saskia Horton's violin solo offers an extra creative outlet from the previous tracks before the breakdown focusing on the bass, harp and vocals allows you to reflect on the whole album.
Whilst the sound of the band eludes restrictive generic conventions due to its progressive deviation in its musical process, somewhere between the musicians from Strata-East catalogue, Sun Ra, Alice Coltrane and large bands of Michał Urbaniak from the 70s you can hear their jazz, fusion and folk inspirations. Inexpressible Infinity is an exciting album that projects Levitation Orchestra's fresh attitude to improvisation and originality in their recording sessions with tremendous success, as you can guide yourself through self-discovery with every track on this album.
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Levitation Orchestra are:
Axel Kaner-Lidstrom - Directions In Music, Trumpet; Lluis Domenech Plana - Flute; James Akers - Tenor Saxophone; Deji Ijishakin - Tenor Saxophone; Sophie Plummer - Vocals; Zakia Sewell - Vocals; Marysia Osuchowska - Harp; Saskia Horton - Violin; Tom Oldfield - Cello; Paris Charles Raine - Guitar; Roella Oloro - Keys; Hamish Nockles-Moore - Bass; and Harry Ling - Drums.