SCRATCHA DVA & MENZI
BEYOND GQOM & GRIME [12IN EP]
As a Londoner, Scratchclart has always embraced the city's melting pot of influences that seep into the city from around the globe. And just as Detroit techno and Chicago house fused with Jamaican dancehall to splinter rave into a spectrum of microgenres in the 1980s and '90s, African sounds - from Afrobeats to gqom - are currently reprogramming the DNA of British dance music, whether it's drill, grime or breakbeat. This conversation is evident on Scratchclart's visionary "DRMTRK" series of EPs, and solidified more readily on last year's "Afrotek", where he collaborated with South African producer Mxshi Mo and Baltimore beatmaker :3LON. On "Scratchclart & Menzi", he progresses further, linking with one of Durban's most celebrated, and most outward looking dance music pioneers - Menzi Shabane. Cutting his teeth as part of early gqom duo Infamous Boiz, Menzi has produced for some of South Africa's most prominent stars, including Babes Wodumo, Moonchild Sanelly, Mahotella Queens, Zolani Mahola and Zakes Bantwini. His sound has always been hard to pinpoint, simmering between kinetic taxi techno and expertly engineered cinematic club music without pausing for breath."Scratchclart & Menzi" is a fluid back-and-forth between these two musical vanguards that excavates commonalities in their approaches and exploits sonic loopholes, reworking their respective sounds into an energetic fusion of android diasporic bass pressure. First, Scratchclart strips Menzi's 'Shandis' down to its bare bones, channeling the spirit of RnG into a syrupy and soulful cybergqom shiver of elegiac pads and rattling Durban toms. Menzi's deconstruction of "DRMTRK EP III" banger 'Drm Walk' is equally as mindbending, swinging Scratchclart's rhythm and submerging it in rainfall and siren blares, slowly reassembling it into a downtempo sub-heavy groan. The duo's head-to-head 'Q' is even more impressive, opening in a fanfare of cinematic strings before dissolving into a tweaky froth of clicking drums, square wave synths, vocal cuts and woozy atmospheres; it's pure tension, never offering us the conclusion it threatens, but keeping us on our toes.Menzi's delirious remix of 'IC3' (the "DRMTRK EP VII" track that evolved into Lady Lykez' anthemic 'Muhammad Ali') might be the EP's most upfront floor-filler, repositioning the original's pneumatic bump on a warehouse floor of chants, cybernetic squelches and echoing fx. But the most unexpected turn is a fresh version of Scratchclart's grimey 'Nasty Nasty Nasty', that interrupts the cheeky bassline with amapiano-influenced machine-gun toms, and rocked-powered zero-g sound design. "Scratchclart & Menzi" is futuristic music from beginning to end that rips through established genre logic, emerging with concepts that lodge themselves not in South Africa or London, but somewhere beyond the solar system. We're not worthy.