LV Sebenza Review

Released 2012.  

BBC Review

Will ensure that the word-of-mouth buzz surrounding this trio continues to grow.

Ian Roullier 2012

Sebenza is LV’s swift follow-up to 2011’s Routes, a collaboration with spoken word artist Joshua Idehen, and marks the media-shy London-based trio’s first album release on the influential Hyperdub label.

Together since 2000 but only signed in 2007 when they were spotted by Hyperdub, Will Horrocks, Gervase Gordon and Si Williams have now teamed up with three South African MCs who feature across each of the album’s 14 tracks.

Heavily influenced by kwaito, where hip hop and house music collide, the album also references UK funky, reggae and electro. But these are just loose markers that create echoes throughout LV’s seemingly simple yet deceptively complex rhythmical productions.

The manically urgent title track, which featured on the recent Get a Grip EP, opens the album. It sees Okmalumkoolkat, a dextrous vocal shapeshifter, decrying materialistic money chasers over galloping beats and twisted 8-bit computer feedback, briefly borrowing the chorus from Depeche Mode’s Everything Counts in the process.

LV also enlist the MCing talents of Johannesburg’s Spoek Mathambo and the Ruffest duo, with their cut-up, processed vocals providing the ideal complement to the backdrop of chest-quaking kicks, thumping bass hits and sparse electronics.

Substance is favoured over production sheen throughout the album, with every element of each track having a definite function and no sonic fat or filler allowed. Each track is stripped back to its bare bones but the minimal approach is not employed to cover a lack of ideas; it merely gives the rich spread of styles on display a welcome rawness.

This pointed minimalism contrasts sharply with the information overload that inspires Okmalumkoolkat’s lyrics on tracks like International Pantsula, which drowns in electronic "soundbytes", referencing hash tags, Skype, WiFi and FML.

From the gritty Zulu/English hip hop of the title track to the house of Animal Prints to the low-fi funk of the closer and the Brainfeeder-style beats and crushed melodies of Primus Stove, LV seem comfortable to pursue their own sound rather than chase any particular genre.

While this may not provide them with huge commercial success it will ensure that the word-of-mouth buzz surrounding the trio continues to grow.

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