To say dark dance is niche within the South Africa music landscape is an understatement. Our club scenes are dominated by Amapiano, House and whatever they use to play for the roided up boets at Tiger Tiger Fourways.
Undoubtedly South Africa has a long and rich history of electronic music from Disco in the ’80s, Acid House and Rave in the ’90s and Trance and Drum & Bass garnering quite the following in the 2000s. Unfortunately, the dark, dystopian, despondent brand of hardcore techno and gabber never seemed to gain as much traction as it did in cities such as Berlin, Amsterdam and through the UK.
The artist formerly known as Big Space is back with a new pseudonym, new EP and a completely new sound. SEXXUS functions as both the EP’ title and edgy new artist name for Montle Moorosi. Sonically the EP is a chance for those curious to experience something unique within the South African landscape. A claustrophobic, uncompromising bit of electronic music that firmly places you in an uncomfortable yet oddly satisfying mental space.
Conceptually the album is inspired by the 1949 Henry Miller novel ‘Sexus’ and as Miller wants to see what he looks like in the mirror with his eyes closed the sounds of ‘SEXXUS’ are, “the sound that I make when my eyes are closed, when there’s no expectations, just darkness” explains Moorosi.
Moorosi is acutely aware that his past is not blemish free, frankly nobody is perfect as he admits. “I’m not perfect and it sucks. I think I’ve spent way too much of my time and emotions into trying to create something unique and different with my personal signature attached to it, which is a total waste of time. I’m actually not sure what people care about anymore when it comes to music, and the less I care the easier my job is”. Whether his jaded past or the general indifference he feels towards the industry has played a role in his sound shifting is up in the air. One thing however is certain, ‘SEXXUS’ is a big “fuck you” to those in the industry that failed to take note of Moorosi’s talents as producer. It’s a reboot. A step so far away from his initial approach that he himself compares it to taking a dump on the musicians, composers and artists he held up on pedestals.
Opening track “Down On All Fours (At Close Range)” is a perfect introduction to what listeners can expect throughout the EP. The unrelenting bass and accompanying breakbeat rhythm, capturing that dingy dark dance aesthetic while making you feel unsettled in all the right ways. As with all the tracks on the EP the opener becomes progressively more layered as it progresses, the listeners transported to some dystopian nightmare or the feeling of being in a jam-packed club in Berlin at five in the morning.
Lead single “Chikin Dial” follows a similar formula as the distorted bass has this somewhat suffocating effect. Thankfully for more anxious listeners the spacey synth progression on this track often serves as a welcome respite from the bass line. Although I do think this track is probably the most accessible on the album to listeners not familiar with dark dance I must admit the chicken sample detracted more from the song for me than it actually added as it clunkily breaks up the beat.
“While My Shank Gently Weeps” wouldn’t sound out of place on that first episode of Noisey’s Big Night Out covering the Gabber scene in Scotland and in fairness the song does take heavy inspiration from both Gabber and Jungle as the artist himself admits. It is brutal, unrelenting and somehow even more bass-heavy than the other cuts on the EP. Sonically it is mesmerising, the dark distorted repetitive bassline has this entrancing quality, almost like you’re being sucked into this sick nightmare with the artist.
Even though I think “SEXXUS” is sonically more suited for an international audience, he does give us a cut closer to home with Rose Bonica’s “Dystopia Amapiano” remix of “Chikin Dial”. If you’re expecting a Kabza De Small type beat I’d suggest you move along because this remix is far from the Amapiano you may have become accustomed to.
I have no doubts that ‘SEXXUS’ is not for everyone. Dark, dystopian, deranged don’t seem like the words one would want to use to describe an album you’d like to recommend but that’s just it. This album is dark and deranged but it is also beautifully layered, wonderfully mastered in a DIY kind of way and most importantly it is fresh something that’s getting harder and harder to come by in a highly saturated electronic market.