September 8, 2010

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It’s been a long time, Sach O shouldn’t have left you… without that dark urban hardcore futuristic beat shit to step to.

With approximately 700 releases flooding the Internet per second, cutting through the noise is just as difficult for artists trying to get noticed as for discerning listeners searching for that next shit. Somehow, some way, the real finds a way to be heard. Perhaps it’s all in the presentation, an ineffable congruence of elements surrounding music that, far from having disappeared, seems to be becoming ever more important as the album format and its large-scale artwork increasingly become rigid relics of the past. Get yourself noticed, stand out. I guarantee you if you come at me with a post-Pen & Pixel cartoon cover, a mopey photo of you and your guitar or a vaguely futurisitic sci-fi rendering of some mnml metropolis, I ain’t giving you a chance.

The Lion Heart Foundation (better known as LHF) know a thing or two about presentation. Shrouded in mystery, the Blackdown affiliated North London production crew lurk in the shadows under aliases such as Amen Ra, Double Helix, Low Density Matter, Escobar Seasons and No Fixed Abode. A quick google search doesn’t reveal any photographic evidence of their existence, though an extended one reveals at least one member to be human. They’ve supposedly recorded over a thousand tunes, have officially released about four and have unofficially dropped countless dubplates in fully formed mixes bound to be the music’s final resting place. None of this should be important but it all adds up to something special: before you’ve heard a second of LHF’s music, the group radiates the now-rare vibe that surrounded dark, creative, urban music in the 90’s. A cross genre energy that permeated New York Hip-Hop, London Jungle, Parisian Rap, Tokyo beats and beyond, it emerged from the shadows, burned brightly for a minute and then seemingly flickered out as fast as it appeared only to manifest itself in the rare crews that seemed to remember. LHF claim to be “Keepers of the Light”, you either get that statement or you don’t.

For those with purchasing power, their debut EP, Enter in Silence, on Keysound serves as a good formal introduction. Opening cut “Deep Life” bubbles slowly before exploding into some of this year’s heaviest drums and most tortured soul vocals while closer Broken Glass is all taught tension and bass pressure, compressing Dubstep’s sense of space like a black hole. Easier for novices, Blue Street and Steelz sample Kill Bill and Liquid Swords respectively, clearly establishing the crew within the particular tradition of post junk-culture ephemera which leads a group of people to choose aliases straight out of a late 90’s IMAGE comics superhero group. All in all, it’s an excellent release but one that still seems to only hint at the crew’s potential and one that remains aimed at DJs willing to carry their sound beyond its current London centric cult.

Better still are the free studio and radio mixes that group has filtered through the net over the past few years. Their recent mix for FACT magazine is their most high profile yet, nearly an hour of all original production forming a cohesive whole that truly deserves to be more than #178 in a series. Give this thing a name and a proper label and it’s 51 minutes of music that stands toe to toe with anything else released this year, combining the astral reach of Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma but with a more defined sense of propulsion and less intellectual baggage to hold it down. A swirl of junglistic drums, garage swing, Brazilian samples possibly ripped from one of Madlib’s Medicine shows and an overarching sense of organic expanse, the mix is probably the best spots for neophytes to get in on the action and at 51 minutes, it’s as complete a musical experience as you’re likely to get from Dubstep and its surrounding “wot you call it?” variations in 2010.

Further recommendations include their guest mix for Mary Anne Hobbs’ Experimental show and their buzz igniting “Who are the Keepers of the Light?” Mix both included below, but you could spend hours perusing judiciously compiled pirate sessions on their facebook page and beyond. What’s surprising however is that this abundance of material doesn’t mean a lack of quality control. At a time when the Internet has made over sharing both easy and profitable, LHF have managed to have it both ways, feeding the flames while retaining a sense of mystery. With an album promised “when it’s done” and a second EP due before the end of the year, it’s hard not to get excited about what these guys are doing but whatever the future holds, they’ve already released enough music to last us a solid year, even if you might have to dig a little deeper to find it.

Download:
MP3LHF – Fact Mix 178
MP3: LHF – Mary Anne Hobbs Experimental Mix

MP3: LHF – Who are the Keepers of the Light? Mix

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