They say you have your whole life to make your first album, and I distinctly remember reading somewhere else that you only have one year to follow it up. London-based trio LV have just lived up to the saying, following their debut album “Routes” – released on Martin Clark’s Keysound – with “Sebenza” for Hyperdub just over a year later. Thing is, “Sebenza” was technically started before “Routes”, throwing this writer’s attempt at some clever comparison to the bin.
Come across any sort of write up about “Sebenza” - and its EP “Get A Grip” - and you’ll be hard pressed to avoid the one key influence on the album’s conception and its final sound, South Africa. Originally triggered by visits to the country from one third of LV, Gerv (Simon and Will complete this unholy production trio), the first music to come out from this London – Cape Town – Jo’burg connection was 2010’s “Boomslang” 12”. Since then all manners of references to South Africa’s Kwaito scene have seemingly been mandatory when discussing any LV output that features their South African connection; this despite the trio’s ability to produce across the board, or regardless of whether or not that music actually has anything to do with South Africa’s own scenes and mutations. I guess that’s what they call a story you can sell with in the vernacular.
Featuring Dirty Paraffin’s Okmalumkoolkat, Spoek Mathambo and duo Ruffest across the album’s 14 tracks, the vocals are as integral to “Sebenza”s fun as the music underpinning them. In some cases the lyrics are very much the star of the show, especially when Koolkat’s involved. You only need to check the slurry “Spitting Cobra” or the two free giveaways “Push It” and “Inhliziyo Yami Izibozi” for proof, the latter featuring one of my favourite rap lines of the year: “if your life is a bitch / my life is a teacher”.
We reached out to LV for a mix and interview to coincide with the album release, and having got to know the trio personally over the last few years after a random encounter at the Hyperdub fifth anniversary sweat box in 2009, I thought it’d be the perfect occasion to avoid the same old questions and instead explore their more comical side. What follows is a rather long and not-too-serious chat with the trio which took place on a grey summer evening. It takes in one or two of the obligatory promotional cues – the album’s genesis namely – alongside a stack of much more interesting questions, such as which animal prints best define various Hyperdub artists, why Koolkat’s one of the best rappers this year, the death of speed tribes, whether or not the French version of “Sebenza” would have accordion on it and - best of all - a game of guess the track name from the review. To accompany this lengthy conversation is a mix of dancefloor friendly jams from LV’s hard drive, that have been getting butts sweating on dancefloors in recent months.
So I heard LV stands for Les Voyoux is that correct?
Gerv: I’ve heard that.
I read it on the internet.
Will: It’s exactly correct.
Simon: It’s actually (in a French/English accent) Lez Voyoux.
Yeah sorry my French’s not so good. So now we got that out the way…
G: It stands for love actually. It’s two of four letters see.
Oh so you actually pioneered that no vowel thing?
G: People have been mispronouncing it all this time.
S: We’ve decided not to take credit for the whole thing until now…
G: Let them have it.
Right seriously now, what’s the genesis of the new album?
W: We were sitting around thinking, ‘what hasn’t been tapped to death?’ And then we couldn’t think of anything so we just decided ‘let’s do “Graceland” again, with synths and shit.’
You know there’s a review of the EP that mentions “Graceland”?
W: Did they listen to the music?!
To be fair it’s alluded to in the intro jokingly, much like you did.
W: The only thing I remember about Paul Simon is the Spitting Images sketch of him when he went to do Graceland, and he looks like a hamster. That’s all I’m going to say. Anyways what was the question again?
Genesis of the album…
W: Just knowing some people, making some music. There they were, there we were, our eyes met across the crowded Internet. Ultimately Gerv’s best placed to tell that story.
S: Embellish that shit.
Tell me a story.
G: Once a upon a time, not that long ago actually, I was going back to South Africa and I thought it’d be good to find a DJ gig and see what’s happening. Marcus [ed note: Hyperdub’s man behind the scenes] found out I was going and he hooked me up with Spoek Mathambo, through knowing him already via Citinite. I dropped Spoek a line and he wasn’t in Jo’burg at the time but he told me to look up his buddy, who turned out to be Smizo aka Omaklumkoolkat. He came to the club and the next day I went around to his house which was, much to the frustration of my host, on the other side of town. We hung out for the day, did some recording too. Not that much, probably about half an hour. He had a nice house; don’t think he lives there anymore though. We basically had one of those hungover days where you just chill and you know… Where is this going?
This is prior to “Boomslang” right?
G: Yeah the vocal we recorded in his kitchen that day is what ended up getting turned into “Boomslang”. And “Zharp” as well. So in terms of us and Smizo that was the beginning. A few days later I was in Cape Town and so was Spoek. Met him and Zaki Ibrahim. We did some stuff at the Red Bull Studios and basically every trip since then has been a similar process of linking up and recording.
Is that why the album itself took so long to manifest then?
G: I think Si said it quite well earlier on. There was never really an expressed intention to make an album, more an accumulation of stuff and then a realisation that we had enough stuff we liked to put it together. Steve (Kode 9) had heard a few things over that period which he liked and was sitting on, but it was only much later that he decided to do something for Hyperdub.
You guys ended up releasing your debut album in that period basically?
G: Yeah, and some of the stuff on “Sebenza” actually predates some of the stuff on “Routes”.
S: It’s different because “Routes” was us being asked to make an album, which we did. “Sebenza” however just came together over a few years, it was a pretty natural process.
G: There was a really intense period towards the end though, with Steve A&R-ing it and helping to put it together.
S: We realised we had 8 or 9 tracks he was into, some others he wasn’t, some stuff which wasn’t finished but needed to be. We finished it up pretty quickly after that.
Were the vocals recorded over that period on and off?
G: Some of them got sent to us, a few, but the majority were from random, grabbed sessions. A lot of it was actually recorded at Red Bull Studios in Cape Town. They’re just really good there, they let people use it.
How did you two (speaking to Will and Simon) find the process then, not having been to South Africa? And knowing after “Boomslang” that this stuff was being filed under South African house…
W: I try to not really worry about where people file things to be honest…
S: It doesn’t really matter. In a way it was nice to just have vocal tracks delivered to you and…
W: Not always in a really good state it has to be said… [laughs]
S: There was a bit of editing to do. Maybe we felt we could be a bit more… brutal with editing, doing stuff with the vocals. Because we weren’t there at that initial recording stage. Sometimes I think you can be a bit precious about that stuff. It was pretty cool really.
G: About the house thing. I was thinking about this the other day, and I found an old CD that you [looks at Simon] had sent to me while I was away and it had a couple of tunes that were great, all house tempo but this was from maybe 7 or 8 years ago. It was a reminder to me that we’d always done stuff at different tempos.
S: Well it’s not like we discovered house music… [laughs]
When I spoke to Geoff Barrow about his Quakers project, which had 30 different MCs on it, he mentioned that it was quite nice not actually working with them directly in the studio. It made the whole process less stressful in a sense. Did you find that too, working the way you did with the vocals? Especially perhaps compared with the work you did with Joshua on the first album.
W: Well Josh spent time in the studio with us but not while we were actually writing the music. We just had tracks, he chose which ones to vocal, then we worked on them without him, treating the vocals as acapellas effectively.
So it was a fairly similar process to the new album then?
W: Yeah pretty much.
S: We have the ability to edit what they do but they don’t really have the ability to edit what we do. Apart from obviously getting a say in at the end as to whether or not they like the final version. We have a bit more power in that process I guess. For the new album we sent stuff back to the guys, to get their ok before actually putting it out. Having said that, there wasn’t a huge amount of back and forth with the tracks on this album. We got away with most of it basically, which is nice.
You mentioned doing a fair bit of editing on the vocals on this album, yet listening to it that doesn’t come across at all. Sounds like someone walked into a booth and did his vocals.
S: It’s obviously less brutal than the editing on “Routes”. On that we really chopped the shit out of Josh’s vocals for a lot of it. There’s probably a lot more editing going on than you’d necessarily be aware of though.
This album’s definitely more dance-y as well, compared to “Routes” which was a more introspective listen to a degree…
W: Depends how you dance [laughs]
“Routes” had much more peaks and troughs in terms of how the album unfolded. This one is perhaps more steady in that regard.
W: “Sebenza” is actually a melancholy lament… No one’s really got that yet. If you worked all year and only got a month off, you’d be upset.
[Turning to Gerv] What is the deal with that?
G: The month of December is the summer. It’s really hot so I think there’s a culture of everyone going to the sea in that month.
W: Surely it’s just like August in France?
G: Yeah exactly. You pack up your things and head off.
So what would be the French version of “Sebenza” then? Would it have accordion on it?
It’s a serious question!
W: I feel sick.
G: Probably it would.
W: It’d be set on the Ile de Rey and it’d be a lot of middle class Parisians sitting around complaining.
We might run the risk of alienating a whole bunch of French readers here…
S: I don’t think it would cos most people in France hate the Parisians anyway.
True. Apart from the Parisians obviously.
W: By the way I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. I’ve been to Ile de Rey and I probably complained the last time I was there as well.
Who doesn’t complain when they go to France though?
W: Certainly not vegetarians… [laughs]
Good point. So there’s a track on the album called “Animal Prints”.
W: He’s done his research.
I know. Check me out.
S: Off the top of his head too, didn’t even have to look at his computer.
So which animal print best define the following people…
W: Oh God…
G: Good, good.
S: It’d have to be some sort of camo style thing wouldn’t it?
W: It’d be a cat surely? A cat that doesn’t come when you call. [laughs]
G: A feral…
S: A feral ocelot or something?
W: Yeah a wild cat.
So Kode 9 is an ocelot animal print?
W: Nah I’d say he’s a house cat animal print.
S: I’d say a jungle cat.
W: That’s too obvious I think.
G: Yeah a nocturnal, jungle dwelling cat of some sort.
It could be a house-tamed jungle cat.
W: He’s a house cat infected by the jungle virus.
G: A rabid jungle virus.
Ok. What about Marcus?
W: Marcus is also a cat. Everyone’s a cat as far as I’m concerned.
G: He might be like the beast of Bodmin but a Cornish version. Some sort of mythological Cornish beast.
What would the animal print for that look like then?
G: Some sort of mythological Cornish feline animal print.
W: Everyone’s a cat basically.
DVA? And he can’t be a cat.
W: Scratcha is a hyena. He’s constantly laughing and he also eats carrion. I’m allowed to say that cos he constantly has a go at me for being vegetarian. So he is a three-week old, flesh-eating hyena.
G: You know what I could see him being a bit of a leopard.
W: Not everyone can be a cat!
S: You just said everyone was a cat! [laughs]
S: I know that one, a cat!
G: She’d be like a lioness. Queen of the jungle.
W: That’ll do. [phone text pings]
W: That’s Cooly G saying my ‘ears are burning what’s going on?’
S: I’ll go with lioness.
G: Some sort of very swingy cat.
Can we move away from the cats please?!
W: I know! Morgan Zarate is a dolphin.
S: A bear!
G: What would do a dolphin print look like?
S: It’d just be grey.
W: No cos it’s got that stuff where when you put your fingers across it, like a shark’s skin it’s smooth one way but not the other. So sometimes Morgan’s smooth and sometimes he’s rough. Also he’s got a hole on the top of his head.
G: Morgan would be a… he’d be a lion with a limp.
W: A gangsta lion?
G: With a limp cos of the swing.
W: A disabled lion?
G: You getting me with the limp and the swing?
S: I thought you had a good one there.
So he’s a dolphin, but also a limping lion? He’ll love this.
G: A swingy, limping lion.
W: Can we just point out that all those are said with nothing but love.
Disclaimer duly noted.
G: He could also be like an antelope. Quite nimble, like his music.
S: An onyx perhaps?
Antelope would make a great animal print. Ok so he’s an antelope unless he’s in the water in which case he’s a dolphin.
W: A dolphalope…
G: A dolphalope! A dolphin that can swim in sand.
W: There you go, he’s a sand dolphin.
G: That works.
W: He’s a bug.
That’s too easy.
G: I think he’s like a bear. He’s like a Kodiak bear, a Japanese bear. Grimey, Kodiak bear.
Umm… I’m running out of Hyperdub artists… [laughs]
W: There’s Quarta.
Oh yeah I forgot you guys worked together as well when he was here.
G: He would be like a C3PO trailer marks, like from a mini tank. Miniature tank marks.
But that’s not an animal.
G: Well there’s a little man driving the tank.
W: He’s a koala bear. A bionic koala bear. He’s quite quiet.
S: I see him more like an aye-aye.
W: Basically he’s a type of lemur.
What colour are they?
S: We could give him a different type of lemur, like a ring tail lemur. They’re pretty decent.
G: They’ve got quite a loud call. Quite a shrill, loud call.
S: Yes loud but still slightly secretive.
W: I think what we’re finding here is that these metaphors just don’t stand the test of anything…
I think what we’re finding out here also is that you guys would suck at fashion. If you were told to come up with a bunch of animal prints for a fashion house you’d fail.
W: Well actually we were talking about animal prints as paw prints for a start so…
S: But also you can’t really say that people you like are a snake, which is a great animal print pattern.
True. So what would Smizo be then?
S: Well he’d definitely be the snake. He’d be a cobra.
G: Nah he’d be a basilisk – half snake, half dragon, half goat, half lion…
That takes me back to role playing games. Be careful.
G: Half lion, half hyena, half… He’s got the ears of a wolf [laughs]. He’s got a beak. Front paws of a lion, back half of some sort of goat. Maybe a serpentine tail. Scaly bits. With fur and feathers.
W: But his tail is actually just a mouse. With a USB plugged into his back [laughs]
To his Apple Macbook?
W: Which is part of his back.
W: He’s like a My Little Pony but inside is a Macbook Pro.
Yeah that makes sense. So is it the case that you’re thinking with the way the music industry is going, animal prints and fashion could be your lifeline?
S: Smizo’s got his own fashion line. He’s one step ahead of the game. We should get on it I think.
G: Also he’s the animal prince.
I see what you did there… at the end of the track Smizo changes the name of it then says it can be whatever you want. So what is it?
S: Yeah he’s deep like that. Layers man.
G: Do you need any more hints?
W: It’s called Darkside of the Loon… none of what we’re saying now is true by the way.
It’s ok it’s all going into ‘print’ anyways. Plus you won’t get a say on the final format of the content, like you did with the MCs’ vocals on the album.
W: It’s ok I’ve been putting secret messages into everything I’ve said anyways.
S: You’ll need to play it backwards though.
Back to a serious note for a minute.
S: Wait, that wasn’t serious?
I don’t know, I’m confused. Anyways, it occurred to me on repeated listens of the album, as well as the tracks you’re giving away -which are perhaps more on a hip hop feel and tempo - that Smizo really is a ridiculously good MC. Obviously this isn’t some sort of discovery, but in the sense that he’s on par with good rappers, and for me he’s hands down one of the top three rappers this year. And I can easily see most of the rap/hip hop world and press not really counting him as a hip hop MC. So I guess the long winded question is whether or not you guys also heard that working with his vocals over the last year, did you find he had a hip hop twang to what he does?
W: He reminds me a little bit of Dr. Octagon-era Kool Keith and that’s why I like him. That’s sort of how I see him, I guess.
Does he have anything to do with hip hop in South Africa?
G: I know he likes it and listens to it. He’s really into breakdancing and body popping and all that stuff. That’s really where his interest in music started. He was a dancer, for a long time. Also he likes word play and I think he takes a lot of time to think about what he says. He won’t always try to be deadly serious with it, but I think it’s part of his charm. I agree though, he’s definitely one of my favourites.
S: I think if he was marketed in the right way to a hip hop audience, people would get into him regardless of the music he puts out.
G: Traditionally, as far as I’m aware, in South Africa if you were into hip hop you didn’t really listen to house and vice versa. House music there was always quite glamorous while hip hop was a little more downlow, and then Kwaito was something totally different. Big Nuz for example, even though they’re true Kwaito house guys, they have adopted some of what they see as that West Coast/American style if you like.
There’s more hybridization going on then?
G: Yeah I think Californian hip hop has a bit of a connection there because of the weather, because of the big open roads, you know. I think the same music might work in those places essentially.
Actually the track you did with Das Kapital, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t he tied to Cape Town’s hip hop scene?
G: This is one of the things about Cape Town, it’s quite incestuous. I know Das Kapital used to make hip hop beats and I know Pioneer Unit, D Planet’s label, do stuff with all sorts of different producers. The stuff of his I’ve heard is more banging, big room stuff. He’s into the 160, is it fast, is it slow thing. He’s into that big room hip hop sound, but also banging electro house.
You were saying earlier that you didn’t think about genres when making music. So how do you treat outside influences, things you hear or like, when sitting down to make music?
G: One of the things about LV not being one person is that very often someone might make something which is legitimate in terms of one style or genre, but then the next person may well come in and disrupt it in some way. Put a spanner in the works if you will, and that’s what it is really. That’s one of the reasons I like working with other people. I think it’s something we’ve all got in common, you get surprised and there’s a degree of unpredictability too.
What about the earlier stuff you released on Hyperdub? Was that consciously made as dub?
S: It was more the vocalists we were working with. That’s where Dandelion came from; he was into dub and reggae so that’s what we made. Same with Erol. It came together nicely, and we’re quite accommodating you know?
You certainly seem to be.
G: Also we like different music so it stands to logic we’d like to make different types of music. It’s always quite… between the three of us we probably cover most things, most styles or whatever. I’ve never felt insecure about the fact we make different kinds of music, I’ve never seen that as a problem or an issue.
I think it’s interesting, certainly not negative. To take an idea that’s been doing the rounds, five years ago we still lived in a world where single-genre club nights were common. You went to a dnb night, dubstep night…
G: Speed tribes.
Yeah. There was still this idea that if you went to a specific night you would only hear one specific genre of music. Whereas now there are an increasing amount of line ups consisting of DJs or producers who play different styles, or DJs like Ben UFO and others who string different genres and influences together across a set, mixing things up with a certain taste. So your production approach in a way seems to fit the current… zeitgeist. To use another fancy word.
G: In a way we’re doing the absolute opposite of these people though. As individuals they’re pulling together different strands, whereas we as a unit are drawing all these strands out.
S: I was always quite envious of people who could get into one thing quite religiously. Like someone who only produces dnb. It always seemed to me to be easier, you have to focus and you know where you’re going with it. Whereas we’ve always struggled with people not really knowing what box to put us into and so we’ve never really been fully embraced by one scene or another.
Is that something you really feel then? This lack of a full embrace by any one scene?
G: It seems like you need to invest something in order to expect something out of a scene and I don’t think we’ve ever sought to give ourselves over like that, to a scene. Or at least not in a way that might justify those expectations.
Well when I became aware of you guys five years ago, it felt like you were another ‘dubstep’ act – and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way.
S: It goes back to what you were saying the other day about tempo. It’s the thing that binds genres together, broadly speaking, and I think it was more luck, or whatever you want to call it. We just happened to make some tunes at 140 but in no way were we thinking ‘this is something people in dubstep will like’. It just happened, Steve liked the tunes and that’s it.
G: And at that time I don’t think we had many more tunes at that tempo.
S: So that was always a bit weird really, being referred to as a dubstep act. I don’t think we’ve ever made a dubstep tune…
For me it was more that when I first heard your Hyperdub releases, it was clearly dub inherited and that was a good thing. Then getting to know you guys – getting to know your history – there was clearly more to you than what was being reported or talked about. I didn’t know you guys went back as a production outfit before Hyperdub for example, and I think that’s something that I never really saw mentioned anywhere. I think where you come from partly defines who you are…
W: It’s a continuum.
Exactly. It’s the personality continuum.
G: I read something about a guy who’d made 100s of tunes, and for every tune he came up with a different artist name for it. He started lots of Soundcloud accounts with only a tune on each. And I think that exemplifies what you’re talking about, how people may not need or not want to know whatever informed this thing. I want it to be there and I want to consume it.
Then you’ve got people like Mark Pritchard who’ve made a career out of having different musical faces.
S: Yeah but he changed his name along the way, took on different aliases.
When I interviewed him a few years back, ironically he said he wanted to solidify his output under one or two names after all these years. No doubt because it also complicates how you sell yourself, if you’re 17 different aliases. So then is it fair to say that if LV were an animal print they’d be a chameleon?
G: I think that’s fair.
S: A cat?
G: A catmeleon.
Moving on then to ‘guess the review’! Actually it’s ‘guess the track’ not the review.
S: Do we have buzzers?
No sorry, next time. So the concept is simple, I’ll read a line or two describing a track of yours from a review and you guess which track it is. I’ll keep a tally and the winner gets something. No hints. Let’s start with: ‘the jittery percussive skeleton, woozy chords and powerful subs flutter with restless energy. Built with a lightness of touch…’
No. Wait. ‘Built with a lightness of touch that barely lets the track touch the ground for even a second, the slow slurred vocals ease themselves into the slightly jarring footwork groove of the track.’
[collectively] It’s got to be “Sebenza”.
Very good. Is “Sebenza” footwork though?
W: It’s not even the right speed nor does it sound anything like footwork.
‘With its snare-heavy tribal swagger, squirming synths and sharp bass tones it doesn’t so much wriggle its way into your body as order you to move.’
G: That’s “Boomslang”.
S: I think so too.
W: No I’d say “Get A Grip”.
Will’s the winner.
G: Really!? [laughs]
Yup. ‘The rhythm sits back on itself as 808 toms, low slung bass and winding synths stroke build a simple but effective groove.’
S: “Zulu Compurar”.
G: Yeah… Echoes of Marcus’ press release there I think.
W: Yeah that’s probably what it is.
You’re all right. Is that what it actually says in the press release then?
G: Something about skipping 808 toms I think, yes.
That’s another thing. Echoes of press releases in reviews.
G: Dude always. So much.
S: Always, always.
I’ll admit to having done it before, a lot more when I was younger. Nowadays I don’t read press releases, unless I need a specific fact for a release.
W: There aren’t many facts left in press releases anymore though.
S: It’s so standard though.
W: We’ve been described as up and coming producers before in a press release.
‘The tune’s rapidly looped vocal sample and cacophonous rhythm speaks more towards juke and footwork influences.’
W: Sorry… what? I bet that’s “Get a Grip” again.
S: Yeah “Get a Grip”.
G: No… I think that might be “Boomslang”.
You’re all wrong. It’s “Zulu Compurar”.
G: Hey?! [laughs]
I know… ‘Juggles its juke like stutter alongside the loud percussion and gritty low end of drum and bass and the syncopated beat of South African house.’
W: Get a grip.
Are you telling me to get a grip?
W: Telling whoever wrote that to get a grip…
S: I reckon… Yeah “Get A Grip” again.
G: Umm… I’ve got a feeling it isn’t “Get A Grip”.
W: If that’s how you feel then it definitely is.
G: Oh alright then.
Well done all three of you. ‘Go get your steed from up the hill to the left, and drag him down to jump over the wall. Push the other steed away and you’ll see a prize bubble behind them.’
[laughs] W: Is that like Google translate from a Japanese review or something?
Not quite. So I Googled ‘get a grip reviews’ and this came up. So I clicked on it thinking it was a review, but it was something else. Can you guess what? It’s to do with get a grip somehow. But not yours.
W: Is it a computer game?
G: Some sort of apparatus for helping race horses mate?
S: There’s definitely some sort of sexual thing going on there.
It’s a video game. Can you guess which?
G: “Echo the Dolphin”!
That would have been amazing. It’s “Little Big Planet” though. Anyways, back to the game. ‘The track’s stripped, killer construction, heavy subs, Kwaito-ish snares and lurching synths stabs.’
G: I think I may have read that one.
W: People need to deal with the fact that house music at 150 is not house music. I don’t want to be totally genre nazi about this but it’s at a 150bpm. It’s not fuckin house music. People get a grip. That’s why it’s called “Get A Grip”, because you need to do that.
‘Its underwater dub bass is cut beautifully by sine wavy synths and smartly filtered vocals.’
W: Sine wavy synths is literally one of the worst pieces of description I’ve ever heard. Do you even know what that means?! Nearly all synthesis is based on a sine wave.
S: And it’s probably a square wave.
W: Exactly, or a saw tooth wave.
Yeah but it’s the dub bass that’s cut beautifully by the sine wave.
W: [imitates dub bass cut by sine wave].
G: Oh to be confronted by other people’s hyperboles.
W: Is it “CCTV” or something?
G: No sine waves in “CCTV” are there?
W: No but there’s no sine waves in any of our tunes apart from maybe in some sub.
W: It could be “Zulu Compurar”.
S: That’s what I’m thinking.
You’ve already said “CCTV” Will so you can’t change.
W: Ok whatever.
G: “Northern Line”!
S: I’m saying “Zulu Compurar”.
Well you’re all wrong, it’s “Zharp”.
W: SQUARE WAVE!
‘Explorations of UK Funky’s percussive nuances on the bouncy riddims of…’
S: “Get a Grip”.
W: “Cabin Fever”!
G: Probably… “Boomslang”.
You’re all wrong again. It’s “Northern Line”. And it’s my review from FACT last year. [laughs]
W: You know that’s 138, that’s not Funky.
I said explorations of nuances for a start.
W: You should have used the word motif then you might have got away with it.
Good point. ‘Immaculately low slung, it at first sounds rooted in familiar slow house rollage but ultimately shakes free of any box you try to put it in.’
W: “Zulu Compurar”.
W: That’s absolutely bang on “Zulu Compurar”, if it’s not that person needs to…
G: Yeah must be.
Very good, it is. Will’s in the lead by the way. Gerv’s second, and Si’s last. How did that happen? Next one is my favourite. ‘8-bit chords and keyboard patches overlap with broken beats. Koolkat’s Kwazulu-Natal accent replacing the traditional garage Croydon, he spits from the centre of some mind blowing production, slinky sharp and juggling bright synths like a deranged disco lighting technician.’
S: “Zulu Compurar”.
S: Goddam it.
W: You just keep saying “Sebenza”.
‘Shards of the bent synth curvature poke out in the empty spaces on bubbling [track name].’
G: Ohhh I know. “Suzuran” with Quarta.
S: No one reviewed that [laughs]
W: I’ll say “Zulu Compurar” again.
S: “Sebenza”, it worked for him so.
You’re all wrong. “I Know”, from “Routes”. ‘[track name] borrows equally from UK garage drum programming and traditional African percussion.’
S: “Get a Grip”.
W: Also there is only one traditional African percussion, let’s not forget that. Across the entire continent of millions and millions of people and hundreds of thousands of square miles…
S: Just one type of percussion mate.
G: One bongo.
W: It’s a djembe surely?
G: I reckon “Melt” also…
Well you’re all wrong anyway cos it’s “Past Tense”.
W: Sorry. Can you read the description again?
(reads it again)
W: No, it borrows from neither of those things at all.
Ok, last one. ‘The groove of [track name] is especially nimble. UK Funky has a soca feel to it a lot of the time anyway and that comes through even stronger thanks to the Kwaito leanings in the track’s percussion…’
W: “Melt”, I’m having “Melt” for that one.
S: I love that. Oh dear. UK Funky, Kwaito…
Are you seeing a pattern here?
W: I said “Melt” but I don’t think anyone ever reviewed it anyways.
Yes, “Boomslang”. Gerv edges away at the last minute and wins it all. Here’s a free cigarette. Well done. So the moral of the story is…
W: There are only five words anyone ever uses in reviews of our tunes. Luckily, for about five years you couldn’t read a review of our music without someone mentioning dubby something. Someone reviewed “Explode” saying it was straight out the dub chamber… There is no moral and no story, just a 'the'. You can just about say there’s a definite article.
S: Moral of the story is that describing music is…
G: Like dancing about architecture?
S: Yeah bit like that.
G: I’m going to do a sweet little dance about that chimney over there.
People who write about music are wastemen?
G: Nah I like reading about music.
To be honest, I was first looking at the “Get a Grip” reviews as that was the latest release and I found it amazing how you get this incredible variety of descriptions for the same music. That’s perhaps not so surprising until you realise how much of it is contradictory.
W: I don’t mind that so much. But what people forget, is that just saying something and then using a couple of different terms is not proving anything. No one ever does any actual musical analysis in their writing work.
It’s getting rarer, that’s for sure.
W: You never hear anyone talking about any kind of specificity. It’s all vague and general.
G: That sounds a bit like this, that one sounds a bit like that. Isn’t that the hyperlinked world where everything is… it’s all about connectivity.
I think it’s just lazy to be honest.
S: Yeah that’s what I was going to say. It’s lazy. There was a review of Burial’s stuff that was very detailed and perhaps a little over the top, but at least it was well crafted and I enjoyed reading it.
W: Who’s Burial?
I thought that was Kode 9?
W: Neither of them exist.
I thought one was a cat. Oh actually I forgot to ask you what animal print Burial would be! I can’t believe I forgot but it would be the perfect way to end this.
S: He’s a polar bear.
G: Yes! A blizzard will come in and remove any traces of him. So a polar bear.
W: Surely he’s an urban fox… cos he goes around with night buses…
And that’s that folks.
Albums LV - Sebenza
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Next week, the Scotish duo known as Clouds will drop his new smashing techno 12” for the Turbo label, called “Tannhauser...
Enrique Mena, alias Svreca, is the man-label par excellence in Spanish techno. In charge of the exquisite Semántica Reco...