Track By Track: Asher Levitas & Hannah Archambault – Nous N’étions Jamais Vraiment Là


The pandemic has allowed for many musicians and creative’s to take stock, reevaluate relationships and refocus perspective. This was a key theme in the evolution of a new record by Asher Levitas & Hannah Archambault – two musicians split between Paris and London looking to establish a connection remotely during a period in which physical interaction has been fiercely limited. 

Their new release is called “Nous N’étions Jamais Vraiment Là” – this translates to the English equivalent of “We Were Never Really There”. It’s an appropriate title for the concept. 

The album was built from a desire to get closer at a time of isolation. Each track traverses a different imagined environment as emotional and psychological states unfold. The album was shaped by a sense of duration and slowness, as well taking inspiration from the concept of the four elements; air, earth, water and fire. The project began from an impulse to make music with a stranger. Gradually through conversation, from Paris to London, the two musicians learned to find a shared sonic language.

They describe the album below…

Éolienne, which translates to ‘wind turbine’ in english, gradually expands as the track progresses, breezily floating upwards to an nebulous aerial plane. This was the first track we worked on together, taking inspiration from the concept of the four elements. The track started with a synth drone soundscape composed by Asher before merging with Hannah’s layered vocals and keys.

Sel is a watery ecosystem. It follows a sense of slowness and lingering. The track is interrupted by glimpses of conversations and field recordings, that navigate between intimacy and vulnerability. Sel means salt, simply echoing the salt of the sea. Much of the sound design was created with FM synthesis and the use of out of time looping, suggesting a feeling of natural occurrence.

Coulissage is a term which describes a phenomenon where two tectonic plates slide against each other. This track was one of the most challenging to finish as it changes its trajectory multiple times throughout the composition. The process was a lesson in compromise and collaboration. Elements were sent back and forth, with significant changes from the last. We allowed the track to evolve and meander, until eventually it spawned into an organic teeming and grainy environment that grows and grows.

Latence refers to a time delay between the cause and the effect of a physical change. This is our most meditative piece on the record and is meant to distort the listeners sense of the passing of time. It takes inspiration from Terry Riley’s use of minimalism.

Fièvre means fever in english. It is the most dissonant and tense track on the record. Asher’s abstract zipping and tweeting synth line converges with Hannah’s instrumentation and use of industrial field recordings. The tension and energy of the piece builds until it snaps.”

Buy the release HERE