Boomkat Product Review:
Crucial selection of raw, darkside early gqom from pioneering Durban trio Phelimuncasi, setting the gripping vocals of twins Makan Nana and Khera, and Malathon, to cranky technoid club engines by DJ Menzi, DJ Mp3, and DJ Scoturn, all showcased for first time outside South Africa on the ever vital Nyege Nyege Tapes. Unmissable for fans of dark, heavy dance music of all stripes!
For Phelimuncasi's overdue first international showcase NNT follow a number of excursions into this sound from DJ Menzi and Sleeping Buddha for sibling label Hakuna Kulala with a mix of vintage early works and banging new exclusives, including some produced as recently as 2019 in the downtime after the trio’s incendiary performance at the label’s annual festival. Alongside the gqom archaeology of Italian-based GqomOh! label, this lot forms a vital piece of the genre’s history, charting how the vocalists’ conversational, toasting style, itself rooted in local storytelling traditions and the intimidating rhythmic singing of the apartheid-era came to influence their sound, and ultimately set the course for Gqom to come.
Colloquially known as “taxi techno” in the Durban townships, Gqom is a staple sound at NNT’s annual festival in Jinja, Uganda and always brings the best moves out of the SA dancers (and everyone else for that matter). As recently revealed on his shocking ‘Impazamo’ tape for Hakuna Kulala, DJ Menzi is one of the scene’s wildcards, and his productions for Phelminancusi are a big highlight here, counting the heavy call and response lyrics, signature Zulu trills and hard clang of their ‘Private Party’ anthem, the Terminator-stare drones of ‘GQOM Venus Cemetary’ and the desiccated bones of ‘Umgido’ among the comp’s heaviest drops.
Racked up beside an infectious introduction to gone-but-not-forgotten producers, DJ Scoturn with the menacing bell hook and bouncing bars of ‘Umahlalela’, and the starkly martial snares of DJ Mp3’s ‘Sesi Gora’, which sounds like mutant dancehall dispatched via late ‘80s Chicago, this lot is surely more than your RDA of crucial dancefloor energy, and absolutely primed with dense cyberpunk atmospheres for skulking deserted inner cities and counting down to the apocalypse.