Review: Lv And Message To Bears
It’s rare that we here at Truants would write about the same artist twice in the space of a week, but sometimes it’s just inescapable. Fresh from the release of the “Routes” album with Joshua Idehen, London trio LV have dropped another gem in the shape of their collaboration with folk artist Message to Bears and singer Zaki Ibrahim. The release, with one original and three remixes spread over two 12″s, is the most intriguing and rewarding set of singles I’ve heard this year. After LV and Zaki hooked up in the studio in South Africa, 2nd Drop Records, who previously put out LV’s “Don’t Judge” in 2009, made the inspired decision of drafting in Oxford folk act Message To Bears. The result is almost as if The Album Leaf or Efterklang added a stripped-back palate to a spaced-out London ting. ”Explode” is many things. A jagged, chunky scratch-like effect is complemented with a simple four-note piano phrase and a lilting, rising string line. Zaki, meanwhile, sings of how she has “shoulders in Burma, my feet are Creole”. Throughout the track her vocals drift in an out at different levels, almost as if she’s singing to distant versions of herself. All the while that simple piano phrase grows and fades, builds and dissipates. At little over three minutes, it’s a track that never outstays its welcome – in fact, like some of the tracks on “Routes”, you just wish it wouldn’t end. In a way, however, that’s something that makes this release special, as I’ll explain later.
The first remix comes from the mysterious Londoner called Mothy. The remix, entitled Mothy’s Implosion, embellishes the strings, swamps the piano in a sea of reverb and takes just one line, “worry not my love”, as if to highlight the heartfelt and uplifting message at this track’s heart. It’s another short number, but what that leads to is a feeling that this remix is merely an extension of the original. DjRUM (stream below) adds skittering clicks and whirrs, as well as additional piano and strings, and builds a new track around the full vocal. Killing everything off half-way through, he then takes and repeats the line “into thin air” – then acting like he’s about to end proceedings with a Bill Evans-style piano drift, straight out of “Kind of Blue” – only for a repeated, menacing dubstep stab to poke its head into this previously calming number. Terror is never quite unleashed, yet the air of tranquility is most definitely disturbed. The last remix comes from London renaissance man Charlie Dark. Musician, DJ, runner, English teacher, this is one interesting character. Just see the videos about his Run Dem Crew. But back to the track. The plaintive piano is still here, but now too we have suggestive synths and a driving, if somewhat restrained set of percussive elements. It’s definitely the most upbeat remix, and rounds off the package in uplifting fashion.
Bizarrely, with this set of tracks I find it best to play them all at once – the varying takes on the track, the disparate use of the vocals and the inclusion of new elements while at the same time retaining the same mood, mean it feels almost like a suite in what one might call it the classical vein. You can cop the two records at Boomkat, or, if you’re that way inclined, download the lot here. And, finally, make sure you watch the gorgeous video.
LV and Message To Bears – Explode EP, out now on 2nd Drop.