Review: Culoe De Song – Aftermath Ep
2016 was quite the year for Johannesburg based Culolethu Zulu, otherwise known as Culoe De Song, one of South Africa’s most prolific and exciting producers. In April he released his second album Washa, an LP that saw him expand his distinct brand of rhythmic house, richly infused with traditional South African sounds and luxuriant melodies. The album, which was the first release on his De Song Music label was deeply persona. A conceptual one chock with expansive basslines, captivating percussion and vocal cuts confronting his struggles with self-doubt, fear and faith. In the November which followed, De Song continued his ascent into the international stratosphere, mixing the 21st edition of the Watergate compilation series, a superb display of pace and taste featuring tracks from &ME, Francesco Chiocci and Mr. Joe.
That Watergate mix also featured four new and exclusive tracks from De Song himself, all of which now appear on Aftermath, his new EP on the Berlin label. On this release we encounter a producer who has, at least temporarily, placed the conceptual depth of his previous release on the back burner, opting instead to produce a collection that points to those poignant dancefloor moments that can nestle in the memory for months and months after they've been experienced.
The EP opens with ‘Deadman’s Walk’, a patient course in wavering melody and steady envelopment. It’s a track that, when placed in the right point in a set, can change the dynamic of an night from its early temperate stages into its bubbling second movement.
‘Aftermath’ is a similarly transitional track but with a more driven, tense build. With its rattling snare samples, fizzing low-end synths and underlying dark choral vocals, the title track of this EP is a mystifying dynamic trip in itself, culminating with a percussive explosion that will take the right room smoothly onto the next plain.
‘Bang Royales’ on the B-Side is a wonky, flamboyant cut with rattling high-end drums and echoing vocal loops. The traditional South African rhythmic patterns shine through on this track, lending once again to Zulu’s rightful position toward the peak of the country’s electronic music podium.
Aftermath finishes on ‘Juice’, a chunk of warbling, brutish rhythms and sizzling bass that brings a healthy dose of heft to an otherwise spaciously atmospheric EP.
Where Culoe De Song succeeds on this release is in his capacity to welcome ambience and depth while never allowing the energy and pace to dissipate. After a year that saw the artist rising to new heights as both a competent producer and endlessly tasteful selector, De Song’s first release of 2017 indicates that he has no intention of slowing that momentum any time soon.