It’s the last thing anyone wants to discuss anymore, but the COVID pandemic did a lot of good for artists like Phosphene. You get a sampling of those positive results today with the debut of their new single “Levitation.” It comes from Phosphene’s latest album, their third in total, Transmute, due September 15th. With a classic sound and vibe, “Levitation” will remind you of more vintage indie rock and shoegaze.

It’s just one slice of a very diverse record upcoming, with songs both old and new. The pandemic enabled the duo of Rachel Frankel and Matt Hemmerich to take a deep dive into their catalogue. While they recorded new material, they also sifted through their archives. Within those archives, they found demos and voice memos of song ideas that all fit together quite coherently.

Discussing “Levitation,” Frankel and Hemmerich state:

“This is one of the more playful and openly empowered songs on Transmute. It’s also our rowdiest track, which made it even more fun to execute. ‘Levitation’ actually dates all the way back to our 2014 self-titled album, then titled Go to Sleep. While gigging around the Bay Area, this tune was always popular at our shows, and to be honest, sounded more raw and energetic than the studio recording.

“With that said, we wanted to do it justice by re-recording it and finessing certain aspects of the song structure. We added new lyrics, expanded melodies, and included vocal variations in the second verse based on how I would sing it live. It was thrilling and satisfying to reimagine this song and finally hear its ferocity unleashed.”

Since it was composed during the pandemic, most of Transmute was recorded at home. With the added benefit of time and space, it allowed Phosphene the ability to expand their creative boundaries. For the first time, they experimented with synths and digital string arrangements. The result is a more diversified, polished sound, not quite experimental but certainly more adventurous.

Thematically, the songs reflect the conditions in which they were written. There are deep ruminations on topics of loss and distance. Like so many others, Frankel and Hemmerich were thinking a lot about larger-sized current events and collective anxieties during this time. Despite the unusual and unsettling conditions, making Transmute was actually the most fun they’ve ever had recording. One primary reason was that it offered them the gift of time and opportunity. Within all of these ruminations, some happy, some sad, Phosphene express nostalgia for simpler times, which makes this a very relatable listening experience.

Phosphene ‘Transmute’ album artwork