Released in 2001, “Levitate” is the sixth album by the American group Idaho, then almost reduced to its founder Jeff Martin. The Bordeaux label Talitres, which had already released or reissued a few records of this cult group, is releasing it for the first time on vinyl, remastered and limited to 1000 copies. The opportunity to talk again about this delicate and mysterious work.
I unearthed, by searching and turning over stacked CD cases, the album “Levitate” from Idaho (2001) from a clearing bin of a large-scale retailer. It was offered at two euros, which seemed more than reasonable to me.
It was ten years ago and I admit that I had not yet listened to anything from this discreet group. However, in the 90s, the first albums of Red House Painters or Low accompanied me and Idaho could have crossed my path. The three formations were close, frequently sharing the same stages or the same manager. But that was before the means of access offered by the Internet, and connections were not made at the time …
In retrospect, I have the feeling that maybe it is luck to have discovered “Levitate” ten years after its release. Thus extracted from his time and the relative proximity of albums with similar tones that could then appear, he gains in singularity, showing all the more a richness alongside which many critics of the time have passed (but not POPnews!) .
Conceived as the end of a trilogy started with “Alas” (1998) and “Hearts of Palm” (2000), Levitate is also a breakup album. Jeff Martin, founder of the group, indeed fired all the members of Idaho when he undertakes it. He plays alone on most of the songs, and is sometimes accompanied simply by a drummer, Alex Kimmel, a fan recruited after receiving a demo sent to Martin. If the first two titles seem to give the change, referring to the sound of the previous albums, from the formidable “On the Shore” and for the eight following songs, we enter a parallel world, intimate and strange.
Space and time seem to be suspended here, the rhythm unraveling along the way, plunging the listener into an abyss of suspended thoughts. It is enough to listen to the very beautiful “Orange” while closing the eyes, to follow the loops of the piano and the weary voice of Jeff Martin to reach this state of amazed floating.
Of course, this self-sufficient little music, you may have encountered it before. It is that of those album-universes which have no real equivalents. It’s Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” or Mark Hollis’s only solo album. In a similar way to these, the music of “Levitate” is a music of ebb, of erasing of its traces. It is not without making one think of the hero of Melville’s “Bartleby”, by this same enthusiasm which is constantly exhausted beneath himself, telling us that he “would rather not”: not to commit, not to not to be this rather than that, not to impose oneself or to have to choose. The title “Levitate Pt.2” could be the perfect musical counterpart with its appearances-disappearances of forms, its broken temporality, its suspended movement.
“Levitate” can easily be one of those companion objects that you classify neither too close to obsessively sift through them, nor too far away to forget. For my part, it is one of those rare albums to which it is possible for me to return again and again, sometimes letting years pass between two visits, sure to find the mystery intact, the renewed spell.