LV & Joshua Idehen LV & Joshua IdehenRoutes
KEYSOUND RECORDINGSThe evasive and slightly mysterious London trio LV follow up on 2010’s “38 EP” for Blackdown’s Keysound Recordings with “Routes”, their debut LP alongside vocalist Joshua Idehen and the result is nothing short of excellent.
While LV may be best known for their output on Kode 9’s Hyperdub label, Keysound is the perfect home for the album. If Hyperdub is the label that keeps giving dubstep what it thinks it doesn’t need, then this release cements Keysound as the label that keeps giving London music it didn’t know it had.
Routes marks a logical progression from “38”: Idehen is back on board for vocal duties, both titles refer to the capital’s modes of transport and musically it’s a step forward from the more dubby, melancholic vibes of the EP.
I first got a copy of the album about a month or so ago, while in Japan for a six week period. I first listened to it on a train ride from Tokyo to Kyoto, and then again repeatedly over the following weeks while travelling around the Japanese capital. What struck me most in that time is just how much of a London album “Routes” is. And like similar London albums before it – The Bug’s “London Zoo” or Kode 9 & Spaceape’s debut “Memories Of The Future” to keep it in the family – this innate London vibe it has makes it a perfect album to be enjoyed in any big city around the world. I’d use the adjective urban, but somehow I don’t think it’d work quite as well considering its current connotations.
“Routes” is beautiful, cohesive and fun. It flirts with styles, tempos and genres effortlessly, dipping and diving in a London-centric musical pool like overexcited kids in a lido on a hot summer day. Fun and eclectic is what marks the album apart from pretty much anything else you’ll have heard so far this year in term of dance music albums. Every track brings with it something new, changing tempo or style effortlessly without any confusion on the part of the listener.
LV’s dub inclinations are still apparent on tracks like “Lean Back” and “Murkish Delights”, though “Routes” goes much further sonically than their previous releases with references to rave’s ecstatic climaxes on the short but oh so sweet “Primary Colours” as well as the potential of Funky’s more percussive moments on the bouncy riddims of both “Northern Line” and “Melt” among others. At every turn something new appears and with every listen the album’s cohesiveness becomes more and more apparent.
Joshua Idehen meanwhile is the perfect fourth member in this musical equation. Much like Spaceape’s relationship to Kode 9’s music, he is an integral part of the album without being obvious or in your face. On tracks like “Primary Colours”, “Never Tired” or “Tough” his voice very much acts as an additional instrument to the productions. On the album’s more melancholic moments, such as “Past Tense”, he takes on a more poetic presence fitting the mood perfectly with lyrics that resonate deep, especially to anyone who’s lived in London. And then you have “Northern Line” – easily one of the album’s stand out, and most approachable, moments – where he shines with lyrical prowess and humour. Idehen’s contribution to the album is a great encapsulation of many facets of England’s long standing, and constantly evolving, MC tradition.
Ultimately and despite anything I or anyone else might say, “Routes” is an album that needs to be picked up and listened to from beginning to end in your own head, in your own space and if possible, on public transport. It grows on you beautifully and will no doubt be among many end of year lists. But more importantly I know it’ll be an album I’ll come back to in the future – when I need to find some sense of direction. Laurent Fintoni
LV & Joshua Idehen - Routes (sampler)