DJ-friendly gqom with a focus on percussion.
Da Soul Boyz aren't an obvious choice for an international label wanting to showcase the South African sound. Though they've been active since 2013, the Durban crew haven't yet found international attention. But you can see why they caught the Nervous Horizon crew's ears. Even by gqom's utilitarian standards, Welcome To Durban places a heavy focus on drums. The style's trademark Hollywood string drone is often pushed back in the mix, leaving maximum room for booming kicks and terse snares. This makes these tracks about as pliable—from a DJ's perspective—as gqom gets.
For a listener, though, this extreme minimalism might be offputting at first. A track like "Dark Planet," with its thunderous kick-snare loop and foggy reverb, is impressive, but you might need to hear it on a big system to realise. Elsewhere, subtle variations help crank up the drama. On "Nightmare (Step Down)," the kick drum ducks out repeatedly under a rotating cast of grunts, whispers and animal calls, seeming a shade funkier every time it drops back in. And there's an obvious showstealer, the title track, where looped chants take centre stage and a killer snare pattern carries the groove.