Levi has spent much of the past year in the studio, using the space to create structure in the face of lockdown’s temporal weirdness. “I think I learned a lot and slowed down,” they tell me. They have learned to “really think about what I want to do and what is important to me, which is constantly changing. Just maintain a good relationship with creativity ”. In Levi’s case however, “slowing down” meant releasing two albums back to back – Ruff dog, released in December 2020, and Blue alibi, released in early 2021. Neither album is what you would expect from an artist who first broke through the subversive pre-pop of Micachu and the Shapes (the group reconfigured in 2016 as Good Sad Happy Bad). Ruff dog is stripped down, loud and raw – constructed from a dirty, heavily distorted guitar and barely audible, reverberating voice, as if it had all been recorded with rusty instruments in an abandoned train tunnel. Blue alibi is a little more melodic and melancholy; simple, heartfelt vocals with scattered field recordings and vocal contributions from friends, all members of the Curl collective of which Levi is a part.
“I just felt like I needed to get stuff out of my chest,” Levi says of the pair of albums. “A lot of the stuff I do is in response to other people’s footage, or collaborating with friends, which is great. But it was good to just print where I was and to have that relationship with creating and releasing. It’s like a dead weight otherwise. Both albums were released without much fanfare and employ a consciously lo-fi aesthetic born out of a guitar and mic setup. “I just recorded for centuries and cut the pieces that made me feel good,” they explain.
Unlike the more experimental use of instruments on previous albums, the equipment has been intentionally kept to a minimum. “There is no screen. It’s just a physical connection – your voice and an instrument, ”they say, quietly probing their relationship to technology. “I really like computer music – I’m not anti-computer at all. I find it fair to myself right now, because I’ve been so locked up, it’s like a tonic, that yin-yang. You just have to restore the balance.