Levitation - Coterie
Out of the mess arose a number of excellent British bands, Adorable being the obvious one. But Levitation were not far off, although stylistically they were very different. Levitation was formed by Terry Bickers, formerly the guitarist for House of Love and kicked out for being too drugged up (Guy Chadwick's version) or left because he couldn't take any more of Chadwick's megalomania (his version). Whichever version is true, Bickers eventually stormed off stage during a gig one evening and that was, effectively, the end of The House of Love.
Levitation bear almost no resemblance to the House of Love in terms of style. They seemed to combine the spaciness of some elements of shoegaze, a sprinkling of jangle pop and some heavier use of instruments in the vein of Catherine Wheel. Bickers' vocals, while not great, are very reminiscent of Mark Burgess. The band had a tendency to perform lengthy songs which took a while to get going, but when they did, had some classy hooks - "Rosemary Jones" and "Smile" are a case in point.
Halfway between psychedelic and shoegaze but not really being either, Coterie is a combination of almost mystical lyrics, climactic musical passages and some classy instrumentation. The Bickers-was-a-druggie theory is lent credence by his alternately soothing alternately crashing guitars, almost eerie at times. Yet the key to the whole band can be found in the work of drummer Dave Francolini. Somehow he manages to hold it all together and a less competent drummer would have failed to prevent this from degenerating into a disordered mess.
Coterie is, despite this, something of a disappointment. It is not really an album, more a throwing together of a couple of EP's with some live performances. As such, it doesn't hang together as well as it might. Individually, the tracks each have their moments, even the brief "Nadine", but collectively it makes for difficult listening. Nevertheless, potential was clearly there. This was a band who, if they could hang together long enough, surely had a promising career ahead of them.
So what happened? Well, like their contemporaries and near-contemporaries, Adorable and Whipping Boy, Levitation tried to develop something unique, yet accessible out of the maelstrom of their time. But the music business had found new poster boys who themselves had grown out of the same roots. Britpop came and promised to be more commercial. Bands like the Verve and Boo Radleys made the jump; Blur and Suede led the way; while Oasis took musicians from the failed shoegazers and integrated them into their own line-up. Like Adorable, Levitation came, they promised much, they left. Like Adorable they were probably too far ahead of their time.
In the end, Levitation, like their contemporaries, went the way of their predecessors of the post-punk era. Their fate was repeated because of the vagaries of the record companies and the radio stations. The lesson, even if learnt, could never be put into practice. Simply put, no matter how good you are, if you are not from the stable the mainstream chooses to back, you're fucked!
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on 2012-10-10 CharlesMartel Said:
There is a definitely a glitch with the iPhone going on. every time I turn to an album page on the iPhone it gives two stars to it. :(