Published Sep 07, 2016Lit Harness is the debut solo album from one member of the experimental electronic group Old Apparatus, Asher Levitas, who has struggled with sleep paralysis for many years. He collaborated with vocalist Marina Elderton and worked with visual artist Michael Crowe in putting together this project, which falls somewhere between dark ambient and experimental techno, evoking the Haxan Cloak, Arca and Nine Inch Nails without sounding too much like any one of those particular artists.
As dreams can combine or juxtapose pleasant elements with the unsettling, Asher Levitas' imbues his music with as much calmness as angst. Balancing distorted dissonance with peace and harmony is delicate work, but he weaves those elements together seamlessly here. The first track, "Withdrawn," opens with a soft synth pad, but is overtaken by bass-y noise and swirling reversed samples. Chaos flickers past our ears and harshly digitized bass drums hammer into our deepest fears.
Built on vocal loops and synth pads, "Sheathe" starts off sounding like a Julianna Barwick outtake, but as the layers build, small trickles of dissonance add a very subtle sourness. As the track progresses, a distant high-frequency alarm tries to wake us up, but a twisted and mangled vocal loop draws us further down into dreamland.
Lit Harness is a stunning sonic representation of sleep paralysis in which the dreamy is wrapped up with the nightmarish, where it feels like both are intrinsically linked and inescapable. It's a captivating debut album from an experienced artist and collaborator, and a horrific portrait of the turmoil that can exist between our ears. (Planet Mu)