Mexico City's Umor Rex label dropped four new cassette releases on October 20. Among that batch is the self-titled debut tape from Levels. Recorded in Geneva, Switzerland, it offers 10 "miniatures" written to mimic levels in a computer game.
There's plenty of ear candy here, some of it quite creative. Levels opens with a pretty track called "Corridors" on which the beats resonate beautifully, and the connection between their echo and a couple of white noise additions is a lovely detail. "Gp-17," another strong track, features spoken word layered over an industrial-style beat in a nice, respectful throwback.
The concept is terrific — music is increasingly a priority in video games — but from a compositional standpoint, there's not much to grab onto here. Levels features a really nice palette of electronic sounds, but there's too little done with it. Because the tape includes 10 short tracks, it feels too much like a scan of ideas rather than a deep exploration of any one.
These are the kind of recordings one imagines existing mid-process, before the artist begins to write the final compositions. In their present state, they feel unfinished. (Umor Rex)