Sol Levit arrives a year after Los Otros, the EUS album that inspired a remix disc. It’s hard to imagine remixes of the new works, as the album unfolds as a seamless whole. Instead of drone tracks, it’s a drone suite, with a higher overall impact. Oliver Barrett (Petrels), who participated in Los Otros Remixed, contributes cello to “Al Mismo Lugar”, highlighting the strength of the set. In a word: strings.
Jose Acuña’s great-grandfather, Alcides Prado Quesada, was an influential composer in the 1920s. Acuña (EUS) received permission from his grandmother to borrow loops from his recordings, which he has incorporated throughout the album. In addition, he uses samples of a tuning orchestra from a local music school (“Émori I”), and augments them with his own. The beauty of such weavings is that one never knows when they will appear. The drone remains the base, but when clear instrumentation surges through the fog, the effect is divine. From the brazen brass of “Qualia” to the field recordings and surging cello of “Al Mismo Lugar”, such moments provide clarity in the midst of murk, a metaphor for the entire enterprise.
Sol Levit is described by the artist as a spiritual work: “We come from dust, and will return to that state, after life. We’ve created our own, fake universe. But in the end, it is meaningless.” His words echo those of Ecclesiastes, the philosopher who concluded that while life was vanity, it could still be enjoyed. That philosopher also claimed that there was nothing new under the sun, and he was right and wrong at the same time. Ironically, the “something new” was his own work, which proved to be of lasting value. To everything there is a season.
In like manner, Sol Levit provides a backdrop to human striving, yet is itself an achievement. Is there really nothing new under the sun? In the 1920s, no one could yet imagine a composer collaborating with a deceased ancestor. Natalie Cole laid the groundwork when she performed “Unforgettable” in 1991. In one sense, such works are evidence of a cyclical world, yet in another, they are evidence of broken cycles. EUS has more to say than is apparent in his music, but his music is strong enough to speak for itself. What will his own great-grandchildren make of his output a hundred years from now? Their reaction rests on the outskirts of our imagination. (Richard Allen)