- For many of us outside of Durban, South Africa, the first taste of gqom came only about a year ago, when London label Goon Club Allstars released a split EP by Rudeboyz and Menchess. But it was the ominous, hypnotic grooves of Gqom Oh!'s more expansive compilation from the beginning of this year, The Sound Of Durban Vol. 1, that really captured imaginations. This follow-up mixtape, Gqom Oh! x Crudo Volta Mixtape, gets a limited cassette release, with seven tracks on one side and a continuous mix on the other, plus access to the digital download of 14 separate tracks—almost 90 minutes of music. It's also the soundtrack to Woza Taxi, a documentary about Gqom Oh! label founder Nan Kolè's trip to Durban.
Kolè, an Italian, initially came across gqom through SoundCloud. He then enlisted the help of South African Lerato Phiri to start the label. Kolè has done the world a service by turning us on to gqom, much like Mike Paradinas and Planet Mu did for footwork. He's put in a lot of time and effort sifting through the music, tracking down the artists and putting together these compilations. He's also the one currently reaping the reward of DJ bookings to rep this sound at club nights and festivals, although apparently a tour featuring Durban artists is in the works. This mixtape was also made possible by Rome-based visuals and DJ collective Crudo Volta.
All of the musicians featured here are South African. Their sound focuses on mantric rhythms and melodic elements used percussively, like on Mafia Boyz's "Toyizi Ley'ngane," with its two-note bassline and what sounds like a kalimba riff. Vocal chants are used as accents, and every once in awhile an MC exhorts in a township language, as WorstHood does for Emo Kid's "Hennessy." Too much melody, however, especially in English, as on Forgotten Souls' "Blow My Mind," can feel downright jarring.
The combination of minimalism—especially evident in the microtonal strings of Citizen Boy's "Indaba Ka Bani Besibenuza"—and repetition that gqom favors is riveting, and feels mesmeric in the dance. The elements are immediate and simple, but the rhythms can become more complex than you might think, as on Cruel Boyz's"Cruel Drumz." And while much of this mixtape has a darkness that feels like the polar opposite of most South African house, it's just as irresistible.
01. Dominowe - Darbuka Tribe (Core Tribe)
02. Mafia Boyz - Toyizi Ley'ngane
03. Julz Da Deejay - Quantums And Qo
04. Formation Boyz - Dlala AmaBenuBenu
05. Citizen Boy - Indaba Ka Bani Besibenuza
06. Emo Kid - Hennessy feat. WorstHood
07. Cruel Boyz - Cruel Drumz
08. TLC Fam - No 2 BeeF (Slima)
09. Mafia Boyz - Bhengi YoKhalipha
10. DJ Mabheko - Izinyosi (Core Tribe)
11. Julz Da Deejay - Broken Souls
12. Dominowe - Dark Valley (Core Tribe)
13. TLC Fam - Umgcwabo WeNdanda (Da 4th Term Mix)
14. Forgotten Souls - Blow My Mind (DJ Nerd Vocalist)