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Album Review: Sweet Valley - 'Jenova'

11 January 2013 | 4:35 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Your new favourite weed-bleached instrumental hip-hop duo.

We’re guessing when you clicked the link to this review you were thinking, “Who the fuck are Sweet Valley? And more importantly, why should I give a shit?” Well settle down tiger. Take a chill pill. We don’t expect you to know every single band we write about on this website, which is why we’re bringing you up to speed on your new favourite weed-bleached instrumental hip-hop duo, Sweet Valley.

For those not in the know, Sweet Valley is a new project featuring Wavves' Nathan Williams alongside his brother Kynan. After dropping two fairly dope mixtapes – debut EP Stay Calm in August last year and the Zelda-inspired Eternal Champ following closely in September – the duo gave fans an extra special present late last year by releasing number three, Jenova, as a free download Christmas day (download it here).

So what exactly does Jenova sound like? Well, for a start, it certainly ain’t Wavves. While there are hints of the summery vibes and bong-ripping good times of Nathan Williams’ primary surf punk outfit here, Sweet Valley is a much more laidback affair. This is the kind of stuff suited to lazy Sundays spent unwinding on the couch or drinking with friends by the pool. With a reliance on found sounds, the Williams brothers weave together samples into thick tapestries of beat-driven, chilled soundscapes.

With most tracks between 1:30 – 2 minutes, beats and textures ooze and meld into one another in rapid succession. ‘Savage Clean’ is like Fantômas tweaking the soundtrack to some fucked up Quentin Tarantino film noir movie, with its jagged bursts of spiralling guitar, machine gun samples and huffing brass section. From night to day, it transitions into the slinky café chic of ‘From The Greatest Origins’, complete with the sensual crooning of some unknown diva, through to upbeat psychedelic vibes of Sector Seven’. It may sound a little messy in text, which is why you really need to give this one a spin yourself.

Those with a keen ear will also enjoy picking out the samples the Williams brothers have pinched and spliced together in a Frankenstein-esque mashup of ideas. Listen closely to the start of ‘Psychic’ and you’ll hear a snippet of 'Gang Gang Dance’s ‘Bebey', while later on ‘Seer Stone’ features a little of HEALTH’s track 'Die Slowtucked in there. And while hip-hop beats form the core of what’s going on here, there isn’t actually all that much rapping (with the exception of the title track). Oh, and then there’s also the various ‘80s video game noises peppered throughout.

Jenova’s smorgasbord of found sounds, samples and textures are best ingested in one solid hit. There’s quite a bit to unpick here, and while it’s not all gold star worthy, it’s still a cool mixtape suited for balmy summer nights. Oh, and it’s free - and everyone loves free shit, right?

1. Dimension

2. Body Of Christ

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3. Slum Vexx

4. Savage Clean

5. From The Greatest Origins

6. Champagne

7. Sector Seven

8. Psychic

9. The Alternate Earth

10. Lee & Kirby

11. I I I I I I

12. Jenova

13. Seer Stone

14. Alright Already

15. Impending Doom

16. Psi

17. Hurricane