Holy Oxygen II

24/03/17Vienna's Affine Records Unleash Okmalumkoolkat's Groundbreaking Second Instalment

Available as of today is a different project of sorts, different in the sense of what we usually post on here and different in the literal sense, as in 'I am not sure I have ever heard anything quite like this before'. Hailing from Umlazi, Durban, South African rapper Simiso Zwane, aka Okmalumkoolkat, puts forth his second "Holy Oxygen" instalment on Vienna-based left-field electronic imprint Affine Records, featuring relentless and forward-thinking production work by his label mates Cid Rim & The cloniOUs.

While we first heard of Okmalumkoolkat in 2012, when he featured on South London dance trio LV's Hyperdub-released debut full-length "Sebenza" and were instantly drawn to his unique lyrical swagger, his "Holy Oxygen I" EP (2014) unfortunately escaped our notice. That being said, here comes "Holy Oxygen II" and it is nothing else than groundbreaking. Luckily, Affine Records delivered a track-by-track description along with the EP so that takes some work off our hands in terms of attempting to describe this mind-melting sonic fusion:

Kicking things off is "Straight To The Top": "The futuristic Gqom-inspired instrumental reflects on the last years of Okmalumkoolkat’s career, during which he has steadily increased the number of audiences for his zharp lyrics, his champion fusion of languages and contents as well as his out of this world dance moves."

Qqom in case you were wondering is a movement that has been taking over the coastal city of Durban, described "as a more 'minimal' and 'raw' variant of South African house, most frequently heard blasting from teenagers’ Blackberrys. Evolved from Kwaito, tribal house and skeletal hip-hop influences, gqom – a word meaning 'hit' or 'drum' in Zulu, which is appropriate for such a stripped-back percussive palette".

Up next is "Zweitbester", which "takes the crew on a journey around the world, bringing Holy Oxygen Jazz tothe far out corners of Planet Earth, [while] distinctive, warped chords and an uplifting-forward house-inspired feel build the foundation for a lit up anthem", only to be followed by "Isimangaliso", equipped with "an intensely condensed instrumental [that] provides the red soil for Simiso’s verbal graffiti, steadily building up into numerous crescendos". And then finally, the grand finale, aka "Shark Attack", serving as "a further example of the trio’s trademark fusion of worlds, opened by a distant chord assembly it develops into a wild, claustrophobic, psychedelic song that is bound to [make a lasting impression on listeners around the globe]".That being said, you best blast this on your headphones.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom