When it comes to music with a global perspective, you can’t go past an outfit like LV. An amalgamation of minds raised in the heady metropolis of London, the UK production trio of Simon Williams, Will Horrocks and Gerv Gordon have been producing a frenetic mix of genre-crushing hybrids, often flippantly tossed under headings ranging from garage and funky, to house and digi-dub, for years.
The game-changer came with their debut album Route in 2010, featuring the lyrical talent of poet and musician Joshua Idehen and becoming an instant classic by way of capturing the anxious excitement of London life. Since then, the group have been mining the vibrant and equally complex musical landscape of South Africa for their second album Sebenza –out on Hyperdub August 27 –and it’s yet another groundbreaking exploration into a life lived through music.
Rife with the in-jokes and vernacular specific to a world far removed from the jerky rhythms of the British Isles, Sebenza (which means ‘work’ in Zulu) is its own beast. It features vocals from South African emcees Spoek Mathambo, Ruffest and long-time collaborator Okmalumkoolkat and is a maze of references as intricate as the tapestries of scattered beats and glitchy samples that make up each individual track. As a citizen of a country only now being opened up to the internet, Okmalumkoolkat’s preoccupations centre around a growing awareness of that great global network driven by technology. In ‘Zulu Compurar’ he barks ‘Check, check I’m a Zulu computer. Last name Macintosh, everything’s super. Iphone. Accident. Robocop. Accent. Taxi driver. Dialects. Wifi. Direct.’ He rattles off a list of loosely-related words as if Okmalumkoolkat himself has been programmed like a cyborg, while LV create a bed of sounds resembling a dial up connection to complement it. Meanwhile, ‘International Pansula’ beckons, ‘You gotta check out my blog. I’ve got so much shit to share with you’, while the British producers echo that same dry sense of humour by auto-tuning said chorus into a pop music caricature at its most bizarre.
More than that, though, what brings all these insights together –from Spoek Mathambo’s chilled-out version of Okmalumkoolkat’s ‘Sebenza’ with his anglicised ‘Work’ to kwaito duo Ruffest’s preference for the African languages –is the purely sensory experience of electronic music and vocals that are as much about timbre and an ear for rhythm as it is verbal communication. That playful and inquisitive preoccupation of Sebenza is best summarized by Okmalumkoolkat’s closing phrase on ‘Animal Prints’:
“This track is called ‘Anymore Hints’. Nah, actually, it’s called ‘Animal Prints’… I don’t know you decide, actually.”
LV’s Sebenza is out on Hyperdub August 27, 2012.