Wednesday, 6 October 2010

RECOMMENDED: LV & Okmulumkoolkat - Boomslang/Zharp [Hyperdub]

Since their earliest releases, which saw them travel through dubbed-out, post-Mystikz headspaces, London-based Hyperdubbers LV have stubbornly resisted pigeonholing at every turn. Revisiting the likes of 'Globetrotting' and 'Dream Cargo' now, the clues were always there as to their shifting identity - the former a rootsy stomp as comfortable played from midsummer speakers as headphones on a cold winter evening, the latter a more muscular take on Burial's melancholy images of London. After 'Turn Away', which brightened the opening segment of Hyperdub's 5 compilation with a shot of synthesised colour, the 38 EP earlier this year was a drastic departure. A concept album in miniature, it mapped the psychosocial spaces of a London bus journey, moving in and out of different personae like quicksilver. Sonically it saw the group experiment with form and tempo a little more, but unless you'd been paying attention to their interview and excellent Okzharp mix for Blackdown earlier this year their latest for Hyperdub would, I'd imagine, come as a real surprise.

In the wake of a trip to South Africa (his country of birth), LV's Gerv started to piece together a spring-loaded, London-soaked variant on the kwaito/house flavours he encountered there. The result is a formidable dancefloor double header: both 'Boomslang' - the most maddeningly catchy track this side of Mujava's 'Township Funk' - and 'Zharp' brim with a restless excess of nervous energy. There's so much pent-up tension in the skeletal beat of 'Zharp' that it sounds spring-loaded, liable to burst at any time - it's the kind of tune that could take someone's eye out. Fittingly for the African/reptilian implications of the title (and the glorious artwork), it's a snakelike riddim, slithering and shuddering to a sudden pinpoint stop. The A-side is likely to decimate dancefloors for the foreseeable future, and perhaps the only worry it's possible to hold onto for too long is that it'll burn itself out through overplay, in the manner of 'CMYK' or 'Footcrab'. Durban MC Okmalumkoolkat's semi-nonsense chatter drifts between tightly syncopated stabs of bass and snare, and its central bleep melody lasts for a tantalisingly short period of time before disappearing again. Both tracks are short, sharp shocks, far removed from LV's previous material, and point towards enjoyable new developments, even if this 12" proves more a one-off than a wholescale change in direction.

Words: Rory Gibb
Out: Monday 11th October


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