- Having beat pretty much everyone in the West to discovering gqom, releasing the Rudeboyz crew's self-titled EP in June 2015, London's Goon Club Allstars delve into the South African genre again with a new EP from DJ Lag. Said to be a key player in shaping the sound, a stripped-down, darker variant of South African house coming almost exclusively out of Durban, Lag is also one of the first gqom artists to DJ in Europe (visa problems held up a previous visit planned by DJ Lakhe).
There's a dark edge to lots of gqom, something Lag specializes in. Partly this is down to his sound palette: there's drums and bass, plenty of low-end and often little else. As such, the brightness of the string-synths in "16th Step" and the vocal chant and chromatic tics of "Umilio" cut right through the hypnosis of the beat. Effects like foghorn bass drones—used in all four tracks—add mystery and spectral ominousness, but it's brought back to Earth, and the club, with the crash of snares and toms. These tracks are repetitive—it's still house music, after all—but Lag has enough flair and drama to find moments of rest, such as when "Ghost On The Loose" comes almost to a full stop. While it might share a mood or two with dubstep, Lag doesn't need a drop. Gqom's energy feels unstoppable.
A1 Ghost On The Loose
A2 16th Step
B1 Ice Drop