Friday, December 5, 2008

Foto Na Dans : a raw retrospective

[photograph taken by alex fourie]

a lens on foto
na dans

wow. i'm listening to le roi nel singing soldaatvolk off Foto Na Dan's very first EP. they didn't even title it, and it's not listed in their discography. and while we all come from somewhere, not all of us can call our roots an absolute colletor's item. Foto Na Dans might not agree with me, but this is one of them. a genuine gem.

their musical evolution is next to naked in the four tracks replete with rudimentary production and raw passion. it maps out the flow of their finesse from a sometimes stuttering start stitched with talent and trouble to a synthesis that simplifies the soul. it has solid bass lines. humid, enthusiastic drums still acquiring the art of silence and still witless to the fact that rushing doesn't get you where you want to go. finger licking strings, delicate, driven. trumpet slides and soars. ordinary electro keys? you better believe it - before they refined those trips and trills, before they made them a subtle signiture.

The slightly sarcstic, amper pastiche 'Elelktro' sounds like nothing you'd naturally ascribe to Foto now, but when you follow it with their 2007 debut Intervensie or 2008 EP, Pantomime Op Herwinbare Klanke, you can't help but hear history howl. so don't nobody tell me gorgeous, important, unusual things can't come from upstart indie ever again. from big ideas and small beginings comes beautiful things. it's been a long stretch from sindroom to slottoneel.

These days we know they've found the flow. we didn't know that they didn't always have it. (the blindness of those not burdened by the boon of music making, perhaps?) At its core and completion, Foto Na Dans offers a solid sound that they continue to disrupt with interrogative integrity. it's this that makes them one my favourite melodic vortices. their sound is synergised; they've found their formula, and they grow and change with it every time they play. and from these first grooves on the record, the one who's grown the most is the one i love the most on stage. Le roi. the voice of/ the face of/ the foto na dans of his own spiritual unfolding.

in this original recording for Soldaatvolk he sounds almost adolescent. he uses lazy, round vowels and thick exigencies instead of the articulate progressions we know now. a sudden suprise is hearing his vocal chords steeped in cathartic hollers, raw growls and grating snaps. imagine if he'd gone retro rock on us! or punk. there would be no foto na dans. and no dans, either.

his diction and elocution have evolved aeons between that EP and their debut album. since i first heard Foto Na Dans at their Mercury launch at the end of 2007, i've been in helpless awe of his exquisite ennunciation and that effortless integration of emotion, breath and energy on stage. he takes the core emotion in the compositions and the power in their lyrics and melodies to another level. his voice evokes things i can't find poetry for.

of course, it's not effortless. there have been times when he's had to hold his tongue to heal. he's given his voice professional workouts. it's nice to know that hard work, training, and quality tools can pull the sacred out of the seed. the lesson is love what you love, even if nobody else does. and believe in yourself.

Foto Na Dans regularly tour the country in a dedicated effort to reach people across the land. at the time of typing, they're sitting with 75 souls less than 7000 on their Facbook fanpage. tell me that's not epic for a band from Belville that isn't even a toddler yet.

keep growing gentle men. you are gold.

p.s. update. 3 days later. 3 away from seven thousand on the Face ( )(which reminds me that Rhythm Records have pointed out that this band's fans and CD sales rise relative to every show and tour of theirs. )

welcome home, Foto!

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