Wednesday, March 28, 2007

what is it about José ?

Jozé Gonzales. The slow speedy. He mixes the universally loved acoustic sound with just the right amount of edge to be relevant to the many modern lives that make up the mass market. Gone are Simon and Garfunkel with their sweetsad funk. The Carpenters starved. Gonzales posits himself as a suitor for modern ears because he gives us what we need. Fluffy and easy and sad and stuff just leave us lost, it’s so last menses; our lives are far from the melancholic introspection that West Coasters (that species otherwise known as Californians) could indulge in when flowers were power. We’re smack bang (literally, bru) (as in tik tik boom) in 007, and if the world is a global village, and the world is at war, we want sound that can sing these paradoxes. simply. Gonzalez’ sound is gentle but realistic. There is a subtle sorow that never dominates, and a joy that never overflows. This is the truth of our lives. We feel a lot. We live a lot, and we seem to be making it to the Future. His certain reserve only makes one want more.

Same goes for others of his almost alt ilk. Their fusion sound is relevant to our ears, our hearts, our lives, and while it may not challenge us to climb out of our skins (our lives do that. I hope. Does your life do that to you?) , we do consume them en mass. Take the likes of Jack Johnson as fuel for my thorts. He lightens reggae rhythms so that green, gold and red also mean money,money and …bloodmoney; capitalism from a surfer boy. How contemporary, mate. Matisyahu mixes Yiddish joy with Hip Hop to bring us Yidbop, and put dog back on the map (er sorry, god). Norah’s melodies are classically feminine, but the masculine undertone to her voice speaks to the androgyny in all of us. These peeps got it going on. You have to hand it to them – they may be commercial, but they’re working it like it’s last Tuesday at Morrie’s.

There are a lot more musos in this city who’ve got it going on. Try them on for size with your next pint. And tell me the talent in Cape Town isn’t big…

Thursday, March 22, 2007

up with us!

turks and greeks and geeks and girls and freaks and curls and sneaks and earls
all will gather
to break plates
come and get broken with us

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

lark i

a long time ago, before i was a blog, i was a little sleepless thought in the night. lark was one of the first bands i fiddled with...

written March2006
@midnight in Liliwhite

She is light. and dark.
He is light. and heavy.
They are lark.

Divine delinquency might begin to describe the cutting edge musical collaboration that is Paul and Inge. Nothing will illustrate the duo’s unique sound, one that I am indelibly proud to have emerging from Cape Town.

The first time I heard them - an unsuspecting and dazed trawler at the Long Street Festival - I stood riveted. My ears were educated. In retrospect, associations like Björkesque Goth, gypsy Electronica and dark, circus fusion rose to the surface of my mind and settled in a swill of inferior adjectives. Words fail against Lark’s twisty, testy vine of sound. Descriptions are lost in translation. Apt words are possibly those they created themselves; Lark tongue licks your ears and tickles your (temporal) lobes with ingenious incomprehension.

Inge’s masterful and edgy harmonies smack conventional melody structures upside the lunar tides of Paul’s dark and sexy beats without selling out to melancholy. She glides between vivid, challenging emotions and murmuring ebbs with the sharpness and ease of a burning blade through ice. Her suave, unscripted adaptability reminds me of another musical chameleon on the scene who seems to have gone from suspenders to soap operas, somehow. (could Inge be chris in drag? Has it all gone pop?…) Paul throws crisp, intelligent digital pinches into the flawless mix, and belies it all with a bonedeep, bloodthick bass that is his trademark and towline.

Creativity takes no prisoners; we are all its victims. Lark is making its trademark on our musical souls!

Monday, March 19, 2007


i love diesel whores i love diesel whores i love diesel whores

when i have more
time i will tell you

and i'm writing them a story. because we all catch foot in mouth once in a while.

lark in the dark

Cubs and clubbers were tucked into the armchair’s embrace like tik heads in a taxi to nowhere on Saturday night. Stuck in the dark in an ocean of arms and legs, I was wondering what makes Lark so powerful that fans will happily pack the floor to the wall so that they can’t move to music that was made for wild, intricate dancing.

Beyond their wicked beats and weird words, there’s something else that makes this formula work for the local underworld. I stepped up onto a tiny gap on the steps at the back, and as the boys and girl came into view, it came to me. It’s the sexy, the cool, and the old school.

Let me start with the last. Old school. Which doesn’t mean old. Or school. Old school means the hard road won by a rich musical journey. Any musician worth their weight in Jamisons will attest to the truism that if you’ve survived the biz for longer than it takes to grow a fair sized pine, your music is informed by many influences, elbow grease and creative growth, and probably worth listening to. Musically, trends come and go. Bands with them. Music has always been the expression of emotion and environment and these things are always changing. Music moves. But the makers (do they make? Or do they channel?) that have stood the test of time have something else to offer the score. Perspective. Those that survived the lean times, in between waves of musical magic, when the pickings were pretty lame and partners in prime so hard to find that you could count the number of good bands on one hand, are the ones that bring something new to the new. Lucky us, it’s the epoch of expansion for cape town sound, not a melodic low tide, and Lark’s Fuzzy is no fool. He’s been around the block, and he brings a brilliance that grounds their sound.

Old school : check.
Cool : heck,
that’s mr Ressel. At once the most unassuming soul and boomingly brilliant compositional musician, he straddles the sceptres of popularity and authenticity like it’s just another day on a two headed horse. Aka Humanizer, the beat bandit holds the fort without touching it, and when he nods his head, the cape town underground nods back. (I think that noggin bop has started a trend that is making kundalini teachers smile and opening club goers third eye...)

Sean Ou Tim is the other four letter word in the rig. if his notoriety on the scene doesn't precede him, you don't really know new wave jazz...Two four letter words you might want to remember when wondering about the particular powers that make this troop trippy.

And then sex. aint gonna be no clitglytchfusiongothicelectoronica fame without it. Inge is sex. O - inge is a lot of other things, but what she brings the stage and the band’s potence is a certain brand of erotic, aural arousal. It’s in her voice, it’s in her fingertips, it’s in those snake eyes that would slice you to pieces if she weren’t too busy seducing the scatterlings of Africa that are the minions of her dominion. In our little village replete with its Victorian hangover, she is the closest to fucking in public that most kids will ever come.

There you have it. Total titillation. Lark licks the ears, winds up the heart, and takes you out of your skin. Into the dark.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

wanna play?

ok. so i succumbed. succame.

MySpace just got a piece of jezebel.

i was happily keeping my total number of friends to 1 (tom, whom i never invited anyway) and then i realized that the networking tool can't be ignored. as awful as its interface is. as ridiculous as its nav logic is. as much as this is not a popularity contest. (it's not, right?)

so if you love local music, making it, breaking it down, and mixing it up,

be my friend.
(and tom's. the most popular geek on the cyberside)

ya, wena, matisyahu!

Will the disaffected Jewish youth lap up the irony at Matisyahu’s upcoming Cape Town gig? Will the mainstream be mainlining old school wisdoms or will they diss it as dogma? Will discerning music lovers indulge in some unholy explorations into religious sound? (it could be suggested that choral singing bequeathed R&B its roots, and blues its bottom lines...)

These are common questions concerning the Matisyahu phenomenon, not least because he makes no bones about believing in dog. I mean god. In a postmod world where moral malleability is a survival tool and dosh is a deity, his inexorable fundamentalism is a refreshing turnaround to encultured global apathy. Maybe that’s the turn-on. I believe (yes, I do! but its subject to change. and sincere bouts of doubt) that Matisyahu is so famous because the world fired god after creating him, and Matisyahu has one of the last functioning contracts. (for what it's worth. faith versus finance has become tricky since religion went out of business. ) I’m not saying that the man is a (false?) Messiah, but it’s less a case of a rock n roll stoner making his home where his hat is than it is a case of an unmovable rock stoned on faithful ecstasy. (erm. It’s cheaper, too)

The fact of the matter is that his music sounds good to Jews and gentiles alike. And it’s not like words have the last say when it comes to music’s appeal; in the ratio of sound to sentiment, sound holds more weight, and more water. Even holy water. the Torah touting Matisyahu has taken the shores of the liberal west coast by storm (pardon the pun, we know they’ve suffered enough from global warming's sideswipe cyclones and whatnot) with his orthodox rhetoric delivered by the book, as it were. And the good news is spreading. He’s a growing phenomena in NY, and now Europe. (And you know, the Japanese will possibly love him. Once they get over his funny hairstyle). He’s the arc angel of arch traditionalism where bin ladin is its fallen angel. Funnily enough they quite resemble each other. In all but costume…but cousins will war. Till death brings its peace...

You better behave if you go, though. The clapping, singing dancing congregation are likely to throw stones if you backslide…

Take a leaf out of the good book and give him a good looking into. If Matisyahu's Yiddish yodelling yields no yahoo from you, it’s comforting to remember that while immunity offers a certain stasis and state of grace, impunity belongs only to the godless.

Now which is worse – being godless, or being motherless? I’m inclined to let the whiskey answer….it seems to be one of life's best lubricants...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

out with the new?

sibot launched his solo debut last week. twice. nice.
[It's his second album. you do the math. i'm too dyslexic.]

one a sit down in horrible labia chairs. (no. don't imagine that. please) the other at friction. i made front row at the former. respect from his contemporaries was fairly hard to miss, sitting next to sean ou tim, lee thompson (both closet snare) and a stiletto away from Miss mouthmann of larkspark. we all had the keen advantage of a nostril angle shot...

In With The Old is electric glytch meets jazz riffs. the man admits to being no concert pianist, but gives his two finger melodies a fine whack at it. he hurried calmly from piano to decks to Casio keyboard (the R15 ones) to things i don't know the name of with the swiftness of a smiling snake before supper.

he borrowed two of the aforementioned, famed and much loved Closet Snare kings to great effect, and proved quite convincingly that jazz fusion is on the upswing in the city. even with the lectro boys. like he says, 'in with the old'...

>Sibot received a standing ovation for his efforts. proving that we do all like kind, clever boys.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

conFusion III

and on a further note

indie, in its current status, might just as well be called Windy for all the good it does in embodying the spirit of the independent. Indie used to mean different, edgy, emotional. because freedom rocks. now anything can be Indie, and everything is. Even if its signed on to a major record label.

i'm like, "hello!" that's as bad as emo stemming from 'emotional' and translating into 'melodramatic'...

where's the purity?

conFusion II

and further to that.

is this.



i am also quite miffed that with all this musical global polyNation, people are still making mediocre, copycat music. (i'm the copycat, dammit!)

a good sound stands out. says something new. sounds like itself. and brings you relief.

look for good sound. and spread the word around the world.

is a good way to start sharing. if you've got broadband.


it's becoming clear, as we near
2010 (which is irrelevant, except that the one half is twice the other)

that most music being made is some kind of fusion. alright. it's the next generation of audio evolution. but. we are still stuck in the naming and owning epoch. you know, that one where science rose up as the beast of all access (they conveniently forgot to point out that all scientific theory is, uh. theory. We're just lucky that some of that theory works. for now. though if the petrol price keeps rising and carbon emissions keep migrating for aMOREica, they'll need new ones fast or we'll fast be done in and poorly so). erm. so my point is that we're still compelled to name things, and genres are spared no mercy.

i'm guilty of it too. and i'm sorry, i'm on my knees, and upto my gills in alt-Pop-Metal-Rock fusion . and it just won't do anymore.

the idea that there are traditional schools of sound might be true in some senses, but in a passage of time, it is so very relative. once we had Pop, Rock, Jazz, and Classical. life was simple. or so they say. i was small. i can't remember. then Indy-Pop, Pop-Rock, and Rock-Jazz fusions came along. music morphed. Now everyone is mixing their metaphors with their music, and the proliferation is almost impossible to classify.

good! so let's stop pointing at and pointing to, and start clapping. what's in a name?

a successful Pop-Country singer-songwriter, (izzie aussie or yanki? and does it matter?>), Keith Urban, said something quite clever. He said, at the end of the day, it all boils down to whether or not you like it.

remember that.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Ve r y S m ö r ... .. g å s b o r d

Smörgåsbord? It’s not a Nordic tongue. Though the band I’m talking about certainly do nice things with theirs. And their fingers.. <sigh>.

Smörgåsbord, kitlings, is a variety of things. Originally, things you could stuff your face with. But in this case, its things you can wiggle your bottom to. Verismo (say it silently, imprint it into your sonic synapses!) is all that. And a bietjie more. (ok, say it loooooud)

They make mad music. They dress in velvet and studs. They leap about almost as much as their audience does (now that is a good sign), and they aren’t going to stop any time soon.

It’s a constant dance of quiet little moments that gently build up to fullblast, heartfast deliciousness.

See if you can keep still.

I was like, kululululuuu (or izit kilililileeee?): here's celebration. They bring out the Prima Donna in boys, girls and inbetweens who can’t help dancing to the bouncing frenetics of something other than ordinary. Toss some ska and opera and some yiddish funk and some Antarctic blues and a lot of heartfelt theatrics and a lot of red-faced fans with delirious grins, stir it up like Mr Marley suggests, and voila! You have an unnameable, almost describable evening of hip happiness. Prepare to sweat. And swoon.

And yes, they sing all about love. Lust. Life and the little things that make it magical. Like velvet and lace and lots of pretty faces. That is what Verismo is made of.

Btw they’re wicked musos too.

p.s. Verismo sounds like Verismo, but i'm having moments of Desmond and the Tutus, too. in tone. not taste. and the (wonderful, amazing, where are they now?) Honeymoon Suites.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Bruise me, baby!

Naughty boys making wicked noise. There’s a blueprint for a blerry good experience.

The Dirty Skirts CD Launch

The skirts lifted the hem of their debut album at the Biscuit Mill on 01 March. If you were there, word up for testy taste! If you weren’t, what a waste. They delivered a bit more than the usual subtle smashing of sweet sound …

Fans weren’t quite prepared for the overlords of underthings, I think. Myspace muppets might have been a bit surprised by the point of departure that is “On A Stellar Bender”. But they were a nice crowd, mild mannered and mildly wild. The Skirts, of course, are not.

It wasn’t only their quintessential rocking, bubblegum fun they treated us to. The launch was the perfect platform for them to point out that they’ve got more up their musical sleeves than their Indy-Pop notoriety might suggest. You don’t realise how serious they are about having fun and making music. Whether Jeremy made that point better by belting out his bad, beatific ballads or by leapfrogging face first onto the stage is not quite clear. But the crowd loved it. The boys upped the edge a notch or two. They egged on the ante. And that’s the thing with the Skirts. They’re dirty, but you don’t see the blood.

For expectant fashionistas, it was a lowkey lashing of suspenders and skinny jeans. No black tape and eyeliner this night. For jaded music fans, it was a pleasant spit in the face. Sure, they make you bop. They make you hop. They have their very own jolly, oversized bunny. That’s what we like about them. But this night they also made us moan and hum. Underneath it all, where it counts, they might be here for the party (hell, they are the party) but the music has The Dirty Skirts by the balls.

Beyond their crowd rocking renditions of Feeling The Pressure and Homewrecker, there were moments fuelled with restful emo, acoustic riffs to make music whores spread wide, and occasions that called for a very different kind of labelling. Mm. I like being surprised.

They’ll go places, and they’ll do it in (their) style.

Glad to be able to add divine to my list of D words for the skirts. Dirty, divine… drat, I don’t have any others. Dirty and divine. Let’s leave it at that. Till the next time they show us their panties.

Missed the show? Watch the slide show

Pics : Simon De Haast

(Btw, the ol’ market looks lovely dressed up in a bar and stage and lots of beautiful people. But if you want it to sound right, make sure you get the best soundman in the city, coz it aint an easy space to mix into.)