Unravel the rich complexity of Sunny Levine’s expansive worldview in Notions, the new album on Alpha Pup Records by the singer, songwriter, and producer. Eight tracks inspire a spine-tingling sense of exploration through an unmapped realm using subtle mood shifts, manipulated vocals, and articulated sound design. An album of both sonic luminance and singularity through the conceptual lens, Notions sprouts adventurous forms of life in every instance.
“It’s just some Notions,” explains Levine, “I have a definitive story and universe that I am writing this record from, but the listener doesn’t necessarily need to know that or try to follow it implicitly. You can take from it what you will and make sense of it how you see fit. There are hidden layers that can peel back to reveal different rhythms and harmonies – things catch you off guard but you can orient yourself in the landscape. There’s plenty of room to roam around.”
Levine’s Notions breaks new ground musically with post-apocalyptic rhythm and blues steeped in vague nostalgia. It's as if someone went about making R&B music but had never actually heard it before. This contradictory feeling of intimate familiarity in an unknown world amplifies the album’s cerebral magnetism. Just to highlight a few of the offerings across Notions, “Famous Dog from Japan” is tenuous yet bright, with a mélange of male and female vocals, bells, beats, and light-footed synths. “D.A.Z.E.” wavers with distortion behind a slow-rolling surfer vibe, featuring the undeniable greatness of living legend Ry Cooder. Shout out to the stars in “Out Here” and drift off into a soulful dream in “Don’t I Know That.” With avant-funk lyrics and a pensive gaze, “Crime Lords” fuses a gospel uplift with the raw growl of featured group Shabazz Palaces. With production duties on Shabazz Palaces' last album Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines, Sunny Levine continues their journey together with a spell binding bridge into the future of music.
Closing with more questions than when it began, Notions urges audiences to return again and again for a voyage that peels the layers back through each listen. The lyrical messaging and intended effects also correlate to the state of society and the human experience as a whole. “All around us it seems the art of nuance is in heavy decline. People look for things to be definitive, cut and dry. Yet, that’s not really how the universe runs. There are levels to things, hidden deeper meanings,” shares Levine.“I feel like we are in the middle of some very trying times worldwide. We are all so desperately distracted. Searching for new ways to be distracted. It’s like we’re living through an MP3 version of experience, where we’re missing the feelings and stories that used to ground us. I would love nothing more than if this music gave some people comfort and a headspace to think some notions of their own.”
Sunny Levine hails from one of the most legendary musical bloodlines on the planet. His grandfather Quincy Jones made music with icons like Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson. His father Stewart Levine (who plays horns on this album) worked with B.B. King, Joe Cocker, and Simply Red – and Sunny’s uncle QD3 produced records for Tupac and Ice Cube. But the family's latest heir has blazed numerous trails on his own, scoring films and crafting albums with artists such as Pete Yorn, Scarlett Johansson, Happy Mondays, and Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. Notions is a continuation of this powerful legacy and builds new roads for the seasoned Los Angeles-based musician.
Notions by Sunny Levine will be released worldwide via Alpha Pup Records on June 15, 2018.