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DJ Lag’s New Remix Is a Fiery, Intercontinental Club Music Exchange

Lechuga Zafiro, who made the original “C vs S,” says the remix highlights similarities in the DNA of South Africa’s gqom and Uruguay’s candombe.

Colin Joyce

Photo by Kristin Lee Moolman

One of the obvious joys following the current generation of experimentally minded club DJs and producers is in the ways they find deep connections between geographically and spiritually disparate scenes and styles. Tuned-in selectors and would-be pranksters can find the unlikely meeting points between, say, tribal trance and trap, or baile funk and nu-metal. Basically anything goes, which has made for a lot of exciting genre-boundary blurring over the last decade or so.

But occasionally that sort of thinking produces not just club-crushing tracks, but it can also tell new histories and connect underheard music to parts of broader cultural conversations, a sentiment that’s been lingering in the background of the Uruguayan producer Pablo de Vargas’ Lechuga Zafiro project over the last few years. Back in 2015, he released an EP called Aequs Nyama that was built around recordings of three local groups of drummers who play the traditional style of candombe, surrounding their hallucinatory playing with jittery electronic production. The result was exciting sonically to be sure, de Vargas has a unique knack for blending acoustic drumming with dizzying synth work and off the wall sampling. But it also has the function of connecting folk traditions to contemporary club spaces, bringing the weight of the past to bear on implicitly futurist music.

Now, Lechuga Zafiro is pushing that work further with Aequs Nyama Remixed, a collection of reworks from some of club music’s most boundary pushing producers, like South Africa’s DJ Lag, Argentina’s Tayhana, Brazil’s DJ Pavigo, and Philadelphia’s DJ Haram, among others. “The main idea was to introduce the sound of candombe drums—and I put the accent on sound and not rhythm because it's original rhythm was already morphed into something different in the original Aequs Nyama—to different producers from around the world,” he says.

Today, Lechuga Zafiro’s Salviatek label/collective is sharing DJ Lag’s contribution to the record, a brooding, but ecstatic flip of “C vs. S” that highlights the connections between the original and his take on gqom. The original Triangulación Kultural drum work is slivered and supplemented with some insectoid synth work, and the ominously hovering basslines characteristic of the South African style style he’s helped popularize in intercontinental club scenes. De Vargas says the implicit similarities between gqom and candombe were part of what made him reach out in the first place. “I loved gqom since I first listened to it, especially because the rhythm's DNA shares a lot with candombe,” he wrote. “[I] was super excited to work on this South American-South African alliance, [I’m] hoping we can do more of this.”

The whole Aequs Nyama Remixed is out this Friday, February 9 via Salviatek, and it’s worth checking, if only for a lesson in how remixes can totally reimagine their source material, while still remaining spiritually connected. It’s a good one. Listen to DJ Lag’s version of “C vs. S” here.

Aequs Nyama Remixed is available here.