Monday, 5 October 2015

System Focus: Get To Know Gqom, South Africa's Slow-Burning Club Music


The latest System Focus is on dance sounds of South Africa that live online, chiefly 'gqom' with some shangaan electro and sgubhu too (click here to read). featuring: Spoek Mathambo, Nozinja, TOWNSHIPTECH, SHANGAANBANG, DJ Dino, U-Zet, Phelimuncasi, Rude Boyz, GQOM OH, Citizen Boy and DjAsinatar and the Facebook groups IGqomu, Sgubhu & Gqom Lovers, Gqomu music and Gqom Nation.

South African popular music, in its myriad forms—from choral folk group Ladysmith Black Mambazo to madcap rappers Die Antwoord—has played a huge role on the world stage for decades, and today this richly musical country boasts an ecosystem of electronic dance and club sounds that changes, spreads, and develops with an energy that can rival that of just about anywhere else you care to name...

Meanwhile, the southeastern coastal city of Durban in the KwaZuluNatal province of South Africa has been incubating a style called gqom for a few years now... It would be difficult to imagine a kind of music more different from Shangaan Electro than gqom is—it’s a slow-burning, minimal and ominous style that’s frequently described as “raw.” Gqom fan Thandolwethu BlaqueMusiq Mseleni—who runs a group on Facebook called Sgubhu and Gqom Lovers out of King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape province—told me that qqom is “house music with broken beats, sliced vocals or chants, high tempo and mostly with no bassline.”

“We grew up on it,” Veezy tells me about gqom. “You know, taxis in town or everywhere in and around Durban blasting these songs that had really catchy and funny verses as well as banging hooks. Most people just hear loud bangs but, if you take time to really listen to it, you realize it's more than a created pattern—it's rhythm that syncs with fun. I like it cause it's a really huge crowd favorite in lounges and clubs to get turnt with or get the party sounded.”...

Citizen Boy is one of gqom's most creative producers. Plunge headlong into his kasimp3 uploads... featuring him and his affiliates, and you'll encounter dozens of weird and wonderful twists on the genre's template. Try the hectic “Spit Fire (Remix),” the ultra-minimal “VH HIT” with its deadpan cuíca hook, the downright evil “Natural Mafias,” the alien skirmish of “Thekwini War (Mafiamix)” or the unholy croaks of “Point Magnet (Dope mix).” There there's “Deep Gqomu," a masterpiece that builds up majestically, its ethereal scales climbing ever skyward...

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