Music Review: LV – Sebenza

LV Sebenza Cover

Genre: UK funky, Kwaito

Region: London, United Kingdom / South Africa

Artists’ Website: LV’s Soundcloud Page

Label: Hyperdub

Release Date: Aug 27, 2012

Following last year’s critically-acclaimed ‘Routes’, the trio from South London releases their new album ‘Sebenza’ (which means ’work’ in Zulu) ensuring that their reputation will only spread further in the underground and beyond. Too many influences have informed the LV sound and this time it is South African kwaito and UK funky that dominate, both styles being themselves local idioms based on a host of musical cross-pollinations.

This album reflects those interesting ever-evolving music forms from UK to South Africa and back again. This is out-of-the-ordinary, utterly fresh dance music with unusual vocal deliveries, guaranteed not to be played unnoticed.

LV’s approach is stripped down keeping only what is barely necessary to build captivating riddims – at times you will hear lo-fi electronics, minimal sounds, nu jazz and IDM beats. LV however keep a fair distance from all these styles, distilling only what fits their glitchy funky sound.

All vocalists on ‘Sebenza’ come from South Africa and are related to kwaito music, a regional grimey blend of bass-laden house and hip-hop; while they incorporate a vocal style between rapping and chatting typical of the genre, they all have their distinctive personal style. Gerv Gordon’s South African roots and his extended visit back in 2009 are largely responsible for the connection to kwaito artists. Conversely, kwaito artists are fortunate to receive exposure from some of UK’s most creative producers who certainly know how sharpen the rough edges.

Okmalumkoolkat, half of the duo ‘Dirty Paraffin’, gets most of the exposure here with 8 songs to ride. With wit, fervour and unconventional style he drops catch-phrases and builds around his loosely-connected themes and somehow he manages to sarcastically illustrate the paradoxes of everyday life. He undoubtedly fits and stretches further that whole LV aesthetic of ‘dedicated forward-thinking underground dance music’.

MC/producer Spoek Mathambo from Johannesburg has drawn some attention internationally with his full-length on Sub Pop earlier this year (’Father Creeper’). Here he appears on two tracks ‘Limb’ and ‘Work’, both being more abstract, delving more into IDM direction. Ruffest, from Nyanga near Cape Town, treat some more straight-forward upbeat tracks while they close the album with my personal favourite of the set ‘Uthando Lwaka’ – a warm and fuzzy glitch-hop funk. Greatness!

This album works as a manifesto of the underground and the endless creativity of UK producers but also as a tribute South African kwaito, which has the potential to attract international music lovers and party-goers – especially as ‘new world music’ – local music styles from the Global South that have not only been influenced by but also internalised and recreated Western forms (e.g. electronic, hip-hop) – is in serious rotations lately. Kuduro ravers will sweat again.

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