While the group seem largely autonomous in the grand scheme of things, the sound they exhibit on Keepers of the Light owes (or shares) a lot to the "sinogrime" or "sinodub" tradition—the act of incorporating East Asian samples into UK dance music practiced by Kode9, Wiley and Digital Mystikz among others. Apparent from song titles like "Indian Street Slang" and "Sunset (Mumbai Slum Edition)," the group find as much inspiration getting lost in imagined third-world urban sprawls as that of their home city, musically manifesting London's considerable African and South Asian diaspora in a way that dubstep has largely ignored.
LHF's debt to dubstep is primarily a lineal one rather than a literal one, long seven-minute hymns that cycle and repeat with little variation. The percussive patterns are more complex and intricate than most dubstep, hinting at jungle and late '90s/early '00s darkside drum & bass. That latter and oft-ignored period proves dynamite in their hands, creating drum patterns that feel invigoratingly familiar yet are even more excitingly foreign and alien. A track like Amen Ra's "Akashic Visions," with its quick brass-knuckle jabs in the dark, seems to fold in so many narratives at once—jungle agility, neurofunk precision, ambient d&b melodic bliss—that the effect it has is just as dizzying as the wildly unpredictable rhythms themselves. Elsewhere they combine the exoticism of Asian hand percussion with those same urban jungle tropes, exemplified best on Double Helix's "Supreme Architecture," possibly the highlight of the entire 26-track affair. Blending together screaming divas, gunshot snares taken right out of the Eski playbook and rolling percussion that seems to mischievously slip out of one bar and into the next one, it's all interrupted by one of those pseudo-scientific monologues that used to define the most paranoid of weed-saturated classic dubstep.
Indeed, LHF have no shame in retreading the past, and it's odd to see so much palpable excitement and dialogue surrounding what is in some ways a throwback dubstep album in 2012. But Keepers of the Light is so impressive and immersive a statement that it deigns to create its own alternate universe: imagine if drum & bass forked off on an entirely different path than UK garage and eventually dubstep. The group flippantly lifts endless canon samples in their music—no doubt you'll recognize the "higher!" screech in "Blue Steel" from countless hardcore and drum & bass tracks, or Loleatta Holloway's ubiquitous "you got me burnin' up!" in the hellish descent of "Inferno." In the hands of other producers these samples would seem like hopelessly confused and shameless appropriations of raver nostalgia, but here it just feels like they're recontextualizing them into their own world.
It's hard to imagine anyone without an ascetic sort of patience sitting through all 150 minutes of snaking rhythms and tribal paeans, but that's just the kind of thing a group like LHF would expect from listeners in their frightening and fascinating alternate universe. In some ways it's arguably dubstep's first concept album, an expansive and visionary "what if," a dreamscape of a post-globalization, collapsed multicultural society where cultures collide uncontrollably.