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Available: March 12, 2021
In English, it means ‘We Were Never Really There’; it’s an appropriate title for the debut release of duo Asher Levitas and Hannah Archambault. Nous N’étions Jamais Vraiment Là was first conceived through a cross-channel desire to collaborate with a total stranger during a global pandemic, a time where the shared language of music could only be mediated through screens, audio files and speakers. With Levitas in London and Archambault in Paris, they eventually found a way to create from far beyond two metres apart.
The sounds of the LP are neatly — and often very movingly — reflective of that fact. Across five pieces, all of which add up to a multi-suite symphony, the duo set out to represent absence through presence, stillness through movement. There’s an intimacy that belies the duo’s overarching distance on the likes of ‘Sel’ and ‘Coulissage’, their dotted tones — some derived from snippets of overheard conversation, rain sounds and the mutability of a rounded vowel soaked in cavernous reverb — populating a limitless expanse of guitar, string and synth drones akin to a Stars of the Lid release.
For its roots in filling time during isolation — a time when anyone might feel detached from time and space — Nous N’étions Jamais Vraiment Là can’t help but seem like a hugely prescient and optimistic piece of work.