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:Music Review: Level 2.0 – Heartbeat EP

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Level 2.0 – Heartbeat EP
Release Date:  October 13, 2017
Label:  Nemesys Music Digital
Websites:
Official – https://www.level2pointzero.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/level2pointzero/
Bandcamp – https://level2pointzero.bandcamp.com/

Review by William Nesbitt
Professor of English, Beacon College

“Heartbeat” is the second single from the Resurgence album.  The EP begins with a duet of “Heartbeat” called the “Juliet Version” that describes someone waiting on a call that never comes but also proclaiming that “for you this heart still beats.” Sarah Chenoweth (Synapse/Voicecoil) provides the counter vocals in the duet.  Her voice is clear like a rush of cool mountain air.  My first reaction when I heard this track was “who is this!?” I could hear her sing the list of ingredients on a bag of cat litter and enjoy it.  The inclusion of Chenoweth takes the track up a notch, and if every track on the EP had her on it, I’d be fine.

“Flares” comes next.  It is a track written specifically for the EP, and it contains the same thematic content as “Heartbeat” as it describes the end of a relationship.  It’s a mid-tempo track that plods along as the narrator realizes that “this could be our final night” and “this heart could die.”

Next up is the “After Dusk We Dance Mix” of “Heartbeat.” As the title suggests it’s a very danceable track.  This version also contains Chenoweth’s vocals. “After Dusk We Run,” one more track exclusive to the EP, follows.  It’s another mid-tempo track that further explores the difficulty of relationships. 

“In the Stars,” the third song written just for the EP, is the fifth track and the most successful of the three originals.  Like all of the others, it too discusses relationships and their ends.  In this scenario, the narrator realizes that the relationship is over that “this path will be without you.” However, “it’s not our fault” because “it was never written in the stars for us at all.” Finally, he comes to the realization that “this passion that we felt wouldn’t last forever.” That’s the tough irony of life in this world:  things don’t last, but if they did, they wouldn’t be as special. 

A quick observation:  At this point of the EP, one might consider the similarities between it and Romeo and Juliet when we recognize the reference to Juliet in the title of the “Juliet” mix, the thematic weight and dominance of relationships in each and every track, and the mention of the relationship not being written in the stars, which recalls the play’s description of the couple as “a pair of star-crossed lovers.” Though I may be digressing, I’ll also point out that a lot of Romeo and Juliet is written in the meter—the basic rhythmic structure—of iambic pentameter (most of the lines from the Heartbeat EP are either longer or shorter than the pentametric format, though).  This is significant because the iambic rhythm with its alternation between unstressed and stressed syllables—bah BUM, bah BUM, bah BUM—is commonly described as sounding like a heartbeat.

The last track is the “8 Bit Mix by Matrix” of “Heartbeat” also with Chenoweth.  It’s a sped up version with a lot of bleeps, little effects, and quirks.  I like that all the remixes are distinct from one another.  None of it’s bad.  Put it all out there.  Let people decide for themselves what they like the best.

As a final note, the entire EP is produced very well.  I also appreciate the clarity of the vocals.  Too many albums either put the voice so far down in the mix and/or muddy the production so much, I can hear neither the voice itself nor the lyrics.  No matter how great the songs, the words, the instruments, and the voices are, if it all sounds like it was recorded on a cheap boombox from 1985, then it’s buried treasure listeners can’t get to. 

Track Listing
01. Heartbeat (Juliet Version)
02. Flares
03. Heartbeat (After Dusk We Dance Mix)
04. After Dusk We Run
05. In the Stars
06. Heartbeat (8 Bit Mix by Matrix)

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