The next Hyperdub release comes from Durban gqom originator DJ Lag and London based Hyperdub mainstay Okzharp, of Okzharp and Manthe Ribane. Having initially linked up online back in 2012, DJ Lag and Okzharp connected in different places while touring, putting the wheels in motion for the Steam Rooms collaboration EP.
The EP’s title originates from the Durban nickname for local clubs, “they used to refer to clubs as steam rooms, a lot of the early gqom-style music was played in these places, there were quite a few tracks named after them. The name for the EP is a tribute to that.” The EP features 4 club heavy tracks made in London in 2018 when Lag was passing through on European tours. Opening track Now What layers a wooden percussion scraper, an ancient instrument often associated with magic and ritual, with a ticking cow bell and chants. Set at a slightly faster pace than most gqom, the track harbours a dark energy at its core generated by a low rumbling background synth and pitch shifting claps.
Lead track Nyusa opens with a grinding acidic bass line overlaid with a metallic and gravelly melody with suppressed chants. Sharp kicks drive the track leading up to a wobbly synth break down and back up synth stabs raising the energy.
On track 3, Sambe, DJ Lag and Okzharp bringing back the terminator dance, “it’s a popular dance style people used to do to the track Terminator, a big tune in SA and funky house circles”. Menacing synthesised strings paired with a steel drum melody and crickets spring up the track. This track has characteristics of both funky house and gqom – a subtle meeting of the two styles.
The final track Steam One was inspired by DJ Lag’s set at Hyperdub’s club night Ø, after he brought the heavy steam room vibe to room 2 at Corsica Studios. It has a slow and entrancing build up with a subtle melody layering on stabbing syncopated kicks leading up to a woozy synth break down with a subtle nod to the notorious smoke machine that features at every Ø. “We were inspired by that moment in the club when things get hazy and bendy and glowy. It has South Durban via South London DNA, so inevitably there’s a heavy kwai-gqom vibe with a grimey funky London twist running through it”.
Steam Rooms is a collection of 4 dancefloor heaters that are set to make the club sweat, the amalgamation of a London/Durban link up reflecting both producers environments and sound pallets for an ice cold gqom with funky house shadings.