Last Impressions: Levitation – Need for Not

Back in 1993, this was my favourite album in the world. A couple of years later, when I moved to London, my ritual with my fanzine co-editor was to turn up at hers with a bottle of whiskey and drain the bottle while listening to the week’s releases. We’d scribble down our thoughts before we got too drunk and then reward ourselves by listening to Need for Not, lying on our backs on the floor.

Owing as much to Killing Joke and Swans as to hippies and shoegazers, it was the wild eclecticism bound into some of the tightest playing I’ve ever seen that appealed so strongly to us both. Most bands blend their influences; Levitation more sort of squashed them in.

Against Nature is paradoxically the weakest track and the perfect opener. It establishes the mix of indie-punk-rock and swirling psychedelia and mood of relentless, crushing paranoia, while introducing you to Dave Francolini’s impossible drumming and ex-Cardiac Bic Hayes’ fierce riffs – neither of them overstated.

Single World Around is subtler still. In school, we had a day where we were all to bring in our favourite songs and play them to each other, and nobody got what the “big deal” was about this song. I couldn’t understand how they missed that breathless clash of styles and genres, the unexpected guitar squeals, that strangely funky bassline, and – as ever – former House of Love man Terry Bickers’ fantastically weird lyrics. All anyone heard was quite a nice indie pop song. Their loss.
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Hangnail throws any ideas of subtlety out of the window goes straight for the throat. Plinky harpsichord gives way to brutal guitars and percussion, which take the forefront for once. Levitation took the rules that defined Cardiacs – an intense, playful musicality in which virtuosity reined in what would otherwise be utter chaos – and applied them to a wholly different canvas.

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