- A mid-pandemic Hakuna Kulala highlight gets a new life on vinyl.
- Thanks in part to game-changing talent like Menzi, Ugandan collective Nyege Nyege have become a force to be reckoned with in electronic music since their inception in 2013. The Durban, South Africa-based producer is a pioneer (and frequent tinkerer) of the gqom sound. In its pre-Menzi state, Gqom was a busy amalgamation of broken beat, dark synths and leftfield menace. With Menzi at the helm, it somehow becomes even darker, almost Vantablack. On the Impazano EP, first released last year and now reissued on vinyl, Menzi deconstructs the tropes of gqom and rebuilds them into something more cinematic and sometimes industrial than the genre is known for.
The title track is a torrent of imposing noise—at points you can't tell if you're hearing sirens or animal howls. Just as you begin leaning towards one or the other, an equally domineering musical element has already replaced it. Even when rhythm emerges in the second half, you're still stuck in the jaws of something carnal, as biting snares play call-and-response with some punchy kicks. Elsewhere, occasional samples of manic laughter and jovial chatter on "Minimal Surge" sound depraved in the context of these dark, barren atmospheres.
By the time "Underground Abaphansi'' has opened its gates, you feel as if you've descended down multiple layers of some abyss. A quick Google search tells me "aphabansi" translates to "low," meaning the title roughly translates to "Underground Low," AKA a low that's lower than low. Led by guttural chants and droney synths, this is bleak, acidic and thunderous music. And Menzi's knack for cinematic shifts of pace are on full display on the kuduro-leaning "Zulu Warrior," whose gong sounds and unnerving vocals give you the feeling of a life-or-death situation interpreted purely in sound.
This is technically impressive, nail-biting dance music. One last trip to Google Translate told me that Impazamo, in Xhosa, translates to "error" in English. It's the perfect name for a record that's not only glitchy in its steps, but one that takes a genre with an established code of conduct in Gqom, and then flips it on its head, with scorching results.
02. Minimal Surge
03. Underground Abaphansi
04. QGM Dance
05. GQOM Tera feat. Ecko Bazz
06. Zulu Warrior