The Ugandan label Hakuna Kulala presents Menzi’s debut album Impazamo. Since Menzi comes from the Umlazi township of Durban, South Africa, the EP explores the musical style that emerged from this area: gqom.
However, Menzi does not approach the genre passively. He dissects and analyzes the gqom scene, and then he builds it back together with his personal touch. His coinage of “futuristic gqom” is deeply fitting for the nexus of industrial and techno electronics on this six-tracker. Throughout the tracks, the meticulous sound design recalls the experimental hard hits of Villaelvin or Arca. The minimal, raw texture and the heavy beats define Impamazo as a ferocious beast, waiting to be unleashed on the dancefloor.
Right from the beginning, the title track booms into your subconscious with sprawling darkness that builds into a stomping, raw affair. “Minimal Surge” sounds like an evil countdown to Underground Abaphansi’s panicked vocals that disorientate with a fierce undercurrent. “QGM Dance” is so harsh that one can easily replace the word dance with nervousness. The EP also includes a collaboration with the Ugandan rapper Ecko Bazz in the track “GQOM Tera”, on which the MC is symbiotically captured, making it one of the most memorable moments on the EP. Last but not least, “Zulu Warrior”, with its schizoid and frenetic sound, proves that Menzi is a synth virtuoso too.
With Impazamp, Menzi has taken gqom to new, darker territories thanks to intricate sound design and a much darker and forward-thinking orientation. This is yet another proof that the sound of Durban is now more relevant than ever.