Mar 2017 27

Level 2.0 - Moonlit EPLevel 2.0
Category: EDM / Electro-pop
Album: Moonlit EP
Stars: 4
Blurb: A classic band returns with evolved vocals and a more melodic sound with a danceable, catchy, dark release full of range.

 

Level 2.0 began in 2000 in a studio basement with vocalist Mike J. Hoffman and producer Matt Clennan. After the release of the debut album Dreams of Youth in 2005, the band been signed to Nilaihah Records in 2009, releasing the Armageddon album, which appeared on the Deutsch Alternative Charts. By 2012, after two more releases, Hoffman took over the project and left the label.

The Moonlit EP, Level 2.0’s eleventh release and first on his own Nemesys Music Digital, is a nocturnal EP of broken loves, dead stars, and falling leaves, the diverted and beautiful dreams that haunt us at night. The moon is a symbol of cyclical transformation, of death and rebirth, of flight and return, which is an appropriate metaphor for Level 2.0’s current state of being. In terms of the music and instrumentation, this is not a departure from previous Level 2.0 releases, nor should it be. However, the distorted vocals of past releases, which have not always served the music, have changed in favor of a layered, cleaner, brighter sound with the distinctive rasp still present underneath.

The first track is “Moonlit,” which begins with ‘80s Airwolf-esque synth pulses that operate with a surging, stark frigidity. The lyrics speak of a failed, but not forgotten relationship as “A moonlit sky shines so bright reminding me of you tonight.” You can hear the frost on the words. The solemn and emotionally detached verses transform into a hopeful and single soaring wish as the singer implores, “Come back to me for one last time / I’ll promise you, I’ll make things right” in an immaculate chorus. The simplicity of the lyrics is their strength. Who hasn’t wished for a loved one to return just one more time? And who hasn’t vowed to make everything okay? As “Moonlit” closes and the vocals drift away, we are left in a liminal state between depression and elation, hopeless and hopeful, difficult truths and bright possibilities.

Three remixes of “Moonlit” are spread throughout the EP, the most effective of which is the Darklight mix by Suppressor with its hard-driving, pounding beat; this is the track that will make you move the most. In contrast, the slowed down Autumn mix has the feel of a lament, an expression of grief or sorrow. This time, the singer in the chorus sounds as if he feels tired of saying the same words over and over, as if trying to convince himself of their truth. Rather than sounding essentially like the unmixed version with a few minor changes here and there, the remixes effectively reinterpret “Moonlit” and highlight different aspects of it. “Airscape” continues moving through the twilight between sleep and wakefulness as does “Hypnagogic” (the indeterminate state before falling asleep that is neither true wakefulness nor true sleep).

Often singles are intended to highlight one track, tossing in a few miscellaneous remixes and a couple of other filler tracks that didn’t “fit” the album (i.e., they weren’t good enough) but hardcore fans will want anyway. This single does not follow that formula. For those unacquainted with the band, this is as good an entry point as any. Moonlit is a very thematic EP centering around dreams, sleep, reunion, separation, and unrequited, finished love – a love that will not be returned, though the singer yearns and pines for it. This is what it means to shatter into fragments and then gather them again – deep stuff, dark and yet uplifting. This release may not be paradigm-shifting, but it is a strong move forward for Level 2.0 and points in a new direction the project should pursue. The bottom line is that the title track is Level 2.0’s finest moment, the three remixes are great, and the two other tracks, while slightly less essential, are good.
 
Track list:

  1. Moonlit
  2. Airscape
  3. Moonlit [Supermoon Mix]
  4. Hypnagogic
  5. Moonlit [Darklight Mix by Suppressor]
  6. Moonlit [Autumn Mix]

 
Level 2.0
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp
Nemesys Music Digital
Facebook, Bandcamp
 
Purchase at:
Bandcamp
 
2017-01-13
 
William Nesbitt
Professor of English and Chair of Humanities
Beacon College, http://www.beaconcollege.edu

1 Comment

  1. Mike Hoffman says:

    Thank you for the great review. They really understood the music and captured the atmosphere of the EP with their words.
    Great Job.

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