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David Levesque’s band puts Gainesville on the national indie map

Photo: Daniel Dorsa, License: N/A

Daniel Dorsa

Sounding off: (from left) Amy Douglas, Tristan Whitehill, J.P. Wright, Gerald Perez, David Levesque and Alex Crook (off camera) practice in Crook's garage in Gainesville.

On paper, Levek is the artistic vehicle for 24-year-old musician-composer-producer David Levesque, who once lived in Orlando and had already made some waves in the indie world with his quirky tropical sound. Look a Little Closer, a self-produced full-length album released on Sept. 25, thrusts Levek – who was written up in August by Paste magazine as one of 10 Florida musical acts to watch – into an even brighter spotlight. It was released on legit label Lefse Records (which has also put out music by national notables like Neon Indian, Youth Lagoon and How to Dress Well) and the album is already earning Levek some serious bona fides.

Levesque was born in Jordan and transplanted to Florida at the age of 7. For the past three years, he's lived in Gainesville – a city whose rich arts scene helped cultivate the sound of the band (of which Levesque is the backbone, playing with a cast of musicians that has changed over the years). Before Levek's national coming-out, the act had been making ripples through the scenes of the various Florida cities where Levesque lived, including Orlando, where he still plays frequently.

Over the years, Levek's multifaceted sound has evolved from the haunting and spare melodies set against a wash of primitive, almost tribal, backdrops that were the hallmark of his 2009 demo, LVK. Look a Little Closer reveals a fuller, more evolved sound, the fruit of devoted years of sonic incubation in Gainesville's art scene – one that's fertile enough to position itself as the next Florida community to make a credible bid on the national stage.

David Levesque always wanted to be in a band. In fact, a random invitation to join Gainesville's Oh Fortuna on drums several years ago is what urged him to move north. There, he found an engaged, progressive scene that provided him with not only inspiration but access to the resources he'd need to fully develop his own rather specific music.

First, there were fellow players and collaborators, the best of whom he sought to recruit. "I tried to bring in as many of my talented friends just in general to come and play on the album," says Levesque. "I think we had a total of around 15." In fact, the entire cast of Hundred Waters – a Gainesville band that's making big waves of their own; on Oct. 16 their album will debut on Skrillex's OWSLA label – was in Levek before they branched out on their own. Now, Levek has a more settled and permanent six-member lineup that includes Levesque himself, noted Orlando musician Gerald Perez (aka Maximino, bass), J.P. Wright (guitar), Amy Douglas (keyboards, clarinet, wind instruments), Alex Crook (drums) and Tristan Whitehill (synthesizers).

The new album this lineup released is a sophisticated, dream-laced pop vision wrapped in rich, surrounding dimensionality. It's adorned with fine, earthy hand-detailing, but it moves with otherworldly fluidity. Both the advanced technique and the range of colors within – jazz, abstract pop, tropical, funk, British folk, French cinema – indicate a studious musical mind. The result is at once post-modern and forward-thinking.

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