Monday, August 2, 2010
Finally got 3G again. Vodacom se sea cable; I am able.
Ah well. So your doccie. Look, you’re probably all excited about it, I realised that from your one-liner reminder to watch or did I watch or what. But I’m afraid to say that Cosmo was right about you. You all.
I mean, you know I fought fucking hard to get you recognised for what you really offer into the SA music scene and psyche with them, right? You didn’t forget? Me against the media machine, pushing for artistic integrity against the profit-driven, uninformed content producers - little me, my heart full, my words whipping. I gained some ground. But you can’t change public perception alone.
Unless you tell the truth. So, ja. Cosmo was right. when that band-whore, jezebel, said. That you are the princes. The PRINCES.
Only Foto, a band which takes music so seriously, could have the piss taken out of them so seriously. Only Foto could pull it off, tongue in cheek, finger in ass, ass in the air, nose no one knows where. It’s hysterical. It’s necessary. It’s every band’s story. But only this band could pull it off at this time. It’s got an excellent script - never heard so many one–liners away from a bar in my life. and a clever narrative. Story, split, join; story. Faultless, when you say Foto and Dans. As an instrument of hype around your album launch, it’s cleverly restrained – no sounds from new album till last two episodes. Like.like.like.
My crits and confusions (maybe get the director/coffee maker to read and respond. But he must come up with a new insult, now. I’m tired of the old ones.)
We lost Clem – I liked his cameo role – the honorary other. (or, the 3rd wheel. I mean! ‘Sixth member’). He could’ve really upped the antiquated clown character. Dirkie is dark, yes, but another funny fuck would’ve balanced him out.
We lost Theuns! (But, my turn to ask, “really?” - Has he done a Hunter and gone fishing?)
Pacing . It got too fast too quickly at the end there. Moved into the reunion concept too suddenly, too late (should have scripted it for the fourth episode), didn’t give the audience time to assimilate. Which, in turn, makes the concept a little less believable; I mean, to those who willingly suspend reality online. Tight as it is. Coz you know it’s still the territory of stage and cinema, largely. I would have introduced the reunion at the very beginning of the fourth episode, developed the dialogue around that more slowly, and tied it up to the opening dialogue (ideals, etc). I also would have tied in the lost characters with the extra time this would’ve given me. you. them. us.
Bottom line . I mean. Top note. Ek love dit.
I can’t wait to hear the album. I’m coming over to listen with you. With apple juice.
p.s. such sheer, Smokey- blue eyes from the Skype clip in ladyboyland. You weren’t… meditating, were you?!
episode 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBDeZzjp8
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Trend spotting is like tourist spotting. Every week it's new; every week it's the same.
So, surprise, surprise, there's this new trend in town. And it has nothing to do with balls. Or, rather, no. it has everything to do with balls. The ones between your legs; not the ones that elude your legs. Or break your legs. (sorry, i had to. when you've grown up with rugged rugby players crushing each other's heads between their legs for a warm-up, it's just quite funny and rather futile to try and take seriously a crying Italian who kicked the air so hard he landed on his arse and broke his hip).
Trend number two thousand and ten. Musos as DJs. it's great. Wormstorm initiated it (up with the Garden Boys!), Louis expanded on it (or maybe it's the other way around. anyway, both the chicken and the egg get eaten), and now i'm waiting for bands to replace opening acts with an iPod. As if, you say... as if you don't understand the evolution of influence in these city streets. If it can be called that.
of course, it's more than a new trend and a way to make cash for maestros tired of busking their asses off for coins (oh, wait, no, that's illegal this month. along with wearing band shirts in stadia). it's a gesture of courage and goodwill on the part of the musician, an act of attentive adoration from fans, and probably an interesting anthropological exercise for foreigners who want 'African' music and the very fucked but-not-that-fucking-arsed-to-intellectualise it... back on the semi-celebrity front, anyone with any interest in local creativity is likely to listen in to see if they can suss out their favourite vocalist/guitarist/drummer/etc through his/her musical taste(or push the pedestal a little higher up their ass). And in-between it, there might be a synergy. A magic, even. We might dance. Together. Forever. Thing is, like with all novelties, the newness wears off and the second skin is really the beginning. What are we doing with this besides putting musician's social and professional roles on shuffle for the good of mankind? We the MuJays (or MeJays?), the dancers, the ... trend spotters?
I'm wondering if we can isolate what works about it, take away the initial uncertainty, find the essence of the exercise and turn it into a real cult movement that really moves people, metaphorically and literally, instead of just a few stabs at sonic exhibitionism sans strings. Maybe comedians will start selling their oil paintings. Maybe graphic designers will start doing performance art installations in the street. It seems everyone else is, after all. Metelerkamp had a stab at it. Inge and Sannie had a go. And under the ground, someone is threatening to make Middle Eastern beats hypolitically correct. The point is creative cross polynation, and we're ripe for it while the patron saint of patriotism, Togetherness, is patting everyone on the head while we sing nkosi sikhelel on the train in harmony. Time will tell. Pity we're impatient.
The adventure in it is that music and movement are a mystery we'll never truly know or control. Kind of like love. kind of like life. Let's dub it the puzzle of inspiration and make it into a poster campaign. we could cover the streets in them and give those idle, posing soccer balls to the children who need them. What's more (what - more?), the more the merrier; while this scene is finding itself a manifesto, i can't see why we wouldn't want what we've been given. if you have two feet that like tapping, you've probably also found the fodder a bit thin when it comes to recorded stuff to dance to in skinnyville. Or live stuff, for that matter. Or live recorded stuff, whatever that's called.
but one point must be made before the Scene turns this trend into a fashion and reality TV catches on and partners with MTV (again) and then implodes to maybe form a movement about movement (and music). Even if you do it during a headstand, tweaking the turntables is not going to improve your performance or your composition or your technique. That takes blood. And dirty fingernails.
Oh. And that other trend - using about five different genre names to create a composite, completely contradictory and misunderstandable mother term that only your mother can use without blushing. A mix of more than 3 genres in a running description of your music means you're CONFUSED, not inspired. If you're really inspired, you should be making up your own genre name after 3 comparisons, or not caring at all what it's CALLED. And what's with calling your stuff a mix of "Progressive, Indie, Classical, Blues, Punk and Melodic Rock" when you sound like Kurt Darren with an electric guitar? Sadly this trend has persisted for some time, so i think it is renamed a turnstile. Let's skip it.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Classic is ok; but let’s be original? (It beats being adult about it)
So it’s been a while. And while winter suggests the onset of a dry season in all but the weather, it’s actually the time of year that music gets slightly more attention out and about.
The trance parties are (almost) done leeching people of their spare cash and spare energy, and the only other competition for the evening’s attention, really, seems to be DVD Nouveau. And we like them, so we’re not going to say anything untoward about holing yourself up in a room with a fire and blanket and loved ones and watching the world through a 2D screen.
Tis the season to be brolly, so I went to Speedway the other day, despite every inch of me yearning to dive under the duvet and not go into that dark night till hunger forced me to. I’d heard there was jazz from Facebook, and also from the co-owner (who makes dainty, well cut men’s shirts on the side). But it was bumping into a pair of my favourite Lips at my favourite cupcake outlet that got me to go. Seductive as my bedspread is, spending days and days in the house with vestibular neuritis (Not neurosis. It was diagnosed by a professional) had fattened my chances of going out instead of going to bed early like a good little office rat should. But then, I was never good.
And this gathering is not good, either. It’s gorgeous. It happens because of love. And by god, in the cosy den you will feel the love, even if you (think you) don’t like jazz. and to be honst, jazz is a diverse enough discipline for me to think that, sometimes.
It's a community effort. The musicians are part of it for the love, currently barely outnumbering the crowd. Lucky us, they’re good at it. Speedway hosts it because it loves music. The people there, come to listen to love live. And on top of it, it’s original.
A diary extract :
We’re quite a way into it when I realise that the slow shifts and anthropomorphic shapes are not the nuance and form of songs I’ve heard before, and neither are they a crash course in consumable jazz, standard to any set. They are original compositions, and it is at gatherings like this that you truly feel the spirit of Cape Town breathing through its creativity and skill. I sound like a fucking nationalist. I’m not. Not least because it’s pointless if you are even half awake in a country rudely ripped from its innocence a very long time ago, and constantly abused with its misguided attempts at expression and misinterpreted ideas of liberation. The spirit of this land entire is a sick and long suffering one, if spirits can be captured long enough to be personified. It is also a persistent and faithful one. And in jazz, we sometimes feel the full impact of those ravages, in its poignant lulls, and sustained manic crescendos. But we also feel the full weight of hope and effort, the insistence of growth, of expansion despite restriction, of progress despite oppression. We’d do well to write more of our own souls into song, and it’s good to see small clutches of consummate musicians being Led Better.
The standing event’s namesake, Ledbetter is a fluid front man, a public speaker who whose body expresses as much as his fingers do.
While they take solo sections like pros, they meld together and make it rather hard to feel who's forging and who's following. In grateful response, the audience is what a decent jazz audience is - rapt because the musos are what decent musos are - tight.
Ledbetter's better judgement takes a tickle at the fickle with absurd song names like ‘Waltz for a yam’ that prompts equally absurd retorts from the wannabe back row. (There are no rows here, just as there are no lyrics)
“That’s like sweet potato time.” One lady quipped. what on earth do you say to that kind of statement? better nothing. can i carry on about the music?
On the whole, the compositions have the essence of classic hits, with some forays into the Far East and fiddles of other disciplines in-between, but nothing so derivative that makes you think, 'oh, professional session musos trying to compose sigh.' Of course while many accomplished jazzos ARE session players in the strictest sense (can play, if you pay) these are, themselves, individuals known for pushing boundaries in local sound. Lee Thomson is a member of various indigent acts, including the genre splicing Closet Snare. Shane Cooper hangs out with Indian classical jazz fusion act, Babu. Kesivan is in Babu, Closet Snare and he has his own Lights. Lots of love there.
It’s hard to pigeonhole their sound, perhaps because it’s fresh, and perhaps because it’s balanced. It’s certainly not as frenetic or exigent as some Monday nights get at Swingers, which, while it's a mainstay, does often oversubscribe to clichéd covers in the first part of the evening.
Anyway, that’s the thing about Speedway. It’s a charming collision of clichés. I like the apparent incongruence in this weekly gathering – smooth or frenetic jazz from juicy jazzos against a tattooed wall with vintage licence holders and racing colours. Musicians immersed in the music as they are committed to making music work for them. It reflects in the array of colours, cultures and birth charts present.
The audience is mixed, and it is all ages. Speedway is not a teen scene; it’s slightly more grown up than most places where the sound seeps through the walls. Is it the table cloths? Could table cloths be the mark of an adult? I shudder. Must I now get table cloths?
Friday, April 30, 2010
aha. Mango Groove have released something sort-of well-timed to the World Cup. Hardly surprising; commercial once-was-wonder, global event, big label behind them, and local music (especially capetonian music) is hardly ..er.. 'african'. So it makes sense that someone should be trying to cash in on the Fifa frenzy.
What did surprise me is the ease with which their new getalong songs go down. I guess they're well named. The songs are bright, breezy, light, easy. It's Dance Some More, only less dated. A less dated mango. oh ho!
Not much more to say there, except that it's surprising to be so easily seduced by such surface sound. I guess that's what makes pop so profitable. But seduced for a for a few short seconds only. If you soon tire of the same upbeat energy in every song as i did, give your ears a break and give it as a dependable gift for those who like happy, uncomplicated party music. Age bracket : plus forties and the under nines who answer "oh, well, i like all types" to the question, 'so, what music are you into?". Sonic Connoisseurs may not appreciate the joke, though. Unless they are fans. Fans can buy it without blinking or sampling. They have definitely done their fruity followers proud with this one.
Bang The Drum. on the nail.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
image (c) isochronous
I agree; it’s mmmost inappropriate of me to quote an ageing MC maestro for a gig that heralds the unholy powers of the newcomers of melodicprog(post)rock , but boys will be boys. So what can I do?
I can count. And so can you. and since when did one plus one equal the unmeasurable? since isochronous and the lua union met over raw meat and neat whiskey. when was that? the beginning of summer, a century of ideas and emotions ago. and why do we care about measuring when we’ve got music? because we can’t help it. because we know better. because when you separate things, they go astray, and when you synergize them, they stay. And both bands are bound to be around for another round of ideas and emotions. At the very least. and probably a lot more.
the mighty mos def was right- unmeasurable is what you get when these two bands play side by side for the first time – something you can’t quantify. something you’ll only be able to miss once. something you’ll never know to kick yourself for missing until later on when you’re a fan of both bands whose sound is so disparate. and dis parrot would like to point out on top of it that if you’re not there (er. here), you’ll kick yourself for not being there to be able to say antsy, antagonistic, intelligent things about how wrong I was. luckily I never minded being wrong. but I’ve always minded missing out.
In a facebook status update, The Lua Union has an onstage energy that is at once introverted and explosive, a palpably chemistry that sucks you in; spirit, skin, senses. Isochronous is likewise musically magnetic, though theirs is an ethereal implosion with the gravitational pull of a black hole.
You’ve probably heard (of) Isochronous. Anybody who gives a fuck about what’s purportedly/reported to be cool, and how it’s packaged will have scratched their heads over the band, because the boys from the east side are really not trying to be different, and yet they manage it marvellously. Swelling sounds, celestial, ethereal, unreal. A boy whose fine voice fools fags and hags alike, slow crescendos, and a knack for holding back that leaves you leaning forward for more. they don’t need flashy lights and snappy plasma screens. They just need your ears, and an ocean of silence to flood.
You’ve probably not heard of The Lua Union. They’re much the same in that department – conscious, cool, and unaffected. They nearly got called a variety of lame names, but luckily none of them are thus, and so they settled on something quite indescribable. and then they made music to match it. and now I’m going to describe it, because words are profane. Driving guitar, alto-vibrato vocals, and then clean, clear ones. Relentless build-ups, and beautiful break-throughs, always melodic, always powerful, deceptively subtle at the same time. I haven’t seen a south African band with this kind of synergy on stage; sometimes I think it doesn’t matter if the audience is there or not, they still suck the walls towards them. a vortex of venting and introversion and quiet, violent beauty. Disarming.
Now put the two together, and what do you get? An enervating explosion. Be a catalysts. Come. it’s simple mathematics : without you it won’t ever have happened.
image (c) isochronous
image (c) isochronous
(and for the record, he can too count :
“One for Charlie Hustle, two for Steady Rock
Three for the fourth comin live, future shock
It's five dimensions, six senses
Seven firmaments of heaven to hell, 8 Million Stories to tell
Nine planets faithfully keep in orbit
with the probable tenth, the universe expands length
It's a number game, but shit don't add up somehow
Like I got, sixteen to thirty-two bars to rock it
but only 15% of profits, ever see my pockets like
sixty-nine billion in the last twenty years
spent on national defense but folks still live in fear like
nearly half of America's largest cities is one-quarter black
That's why they gave Ricky Ross all the crack
Sixteen ounces to a pound, twenty more to a ki
A five minute sentence hearing and you're no longer free
40% of Americans own a cell phone
so they can hear, everything that you say when you ain't home
I guess, Michael Jackson was right, "You Are Not Alone"”
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Raise your glass. We’re being invaded and the war cry is "SHUT UP AND DANCE".
In a beautifully irreverent display of honesty and attitude, Alexei, Kelly and Junior (and Lewes and Martin and Vicky) make an art of making a noise all the way from the UK.
What do we know about Birmingham? Not much. It was once the seat of the industrial revolution but that’s hardly sexy in a post-ozone age. The scorched skies have cleared now and biotech is on its way to integrate everything the same way those pipes are on their way down the coast of endless Africa to put the broad into band - slowly.
Figuratively speaking, the broad is already IN the band if you’re talking Birmingham music. Birthplace of British blues, its backwaters were the amniotic food that gave us the Moody Blues. And while its canals are not quite flowing with red, red wine either, popular reggae rulers, UB40, probably took some notes on its dole, seeing as they lived (and looked for work) there. Birmingham was home also to the eminence of Judas Priest, the pale faces of Black Sabbath and 2 lads of Led Zeppelin. Think hair and hair raising melodies.
Then think haircut, and rousing melodies. The Brummies have been given a bit of a makeover since the internet was porn. I mean born. And would you believe the new export is “Melodramatic Popular Song”? At least, it is, according to Johnny Foreigner.
Visually they’re a doodle pad gone bonkers, aurally they’re a mix n match patchwork of punk pop and indie rock (insert comma @ will). It's noisy, but it’s nice. It’s silly, with spice. It’ll go well with crushes and ice, and some of their one-liners are pop cult slogans in disguise. They sound like The Killers on ketamine and The Artic Monkeys on mandrax arguing with instruments (and each other) in a mosh pit. Thing is, they're totally into it, making their music all the more (irritatingly) infectious.
While we're on the subject, how about a bit of name dropping? Their debut album, ‘Waited Up Till It Was Light’, was produced by Machine, who also worked with King Crimson.
You’ll sulk if you miss out. Besides a banging dose of brit junk pop, Kidofdoom, She Man Lion, Yesterday’s Pupil, Bruce Willis, Sassquatch and Moe Joe are going to be there. Also, bopping and hopping and getting all sweaty while you smile is a much sexier way to say happy valentine’s day than you think. (Sunday is the 14th, and believe me, you’ll probably still be in the belly of the ass when the clock strikes mistletoe time.) (and this way it doesn’t matter if you don’t have someone to die for. Yet.)
Already busy that night? It's anyway going to be more fun next week in the 'bosch with Ashtray Electric, The Pretty Blue Guns, The Revelators, The Lottery Tickets, Bruce Willis, Sassquatch, El Gordo and the Fourie bros @ Klein Libertas (which is not actually so small). This gig is kissed with kismet. How do you know? Well, The Revelators cream a crowd, and The Guns already have a solution to any party problem which the Foreigners will probably agree with - 'all you got to do is .. dance.'
wherever you see them, buy them a drink, they’re human : lead vocalist and guitarist, Alexei, went to court in Birmingham a year ago exactly for unpaid Council Tax that had accumulated over 3 years.
What I like about Jo Fo : they’re gutsy (or garrulous) enough to post what must be one of the more desultory critical comments on http://www.myspace.com/johnnyforeigner. Hey, they probably came up with it themselves after one of their relatives reacted. And their album art suits their sound.
It’s true that : when the girl sings, it sounds like Avril with PMS.
It’s also true that : it’d sound more authentic in their own accent.
But : so what, jezebel? It’s the kind of party music that brings the background and the underground into the same shiny, happy space. Which is.. in your face.
13th FEB – The Assembly, Cape Town www.webtickets.co.za/assembly - R80
tour deets for party peeps
13th FEB – Assembly - CAPE TOWN with Kidofdoom, yesterday’s Pupil, She Man Lion, Sassquatch, Bruce Willis and MoeJoe
17th FEB – Klein Libertas – STELLENBOSCH with Ashtray Electric, The Pretty Blue Guns, The Revelators, The Lottery Tickets, Bruce Willis, Sassquatch and El Gordo
19th FEB – Hotbox Studios – PRETORIA with Isochronous, Wrestlerish, Sticky Antlers, MoeJoe, Sassquatch, Nathan Scott Phillips and Kodiac
20th FEB – DYNAMO JOFO ”Attack of the Electric Ghosts” - JOHANNESBURG with Desmond & The Tutus, Yesterday’s Pupil, Us Kids Know, Eyes Like Mirrors, Sassquatch, Data Takashi, MoeJoe, Nathan Scott Phillips, Kodiac and That Girl
26th FEB - RAMFEST - MAIN STAGE - 21:00
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Splashy Fen just dropped an announcement of (some of) the confirmed bands for the next, best hippy fest (note the comma, please. unless of course you want to argue crusty creek against splashy fen? hrmm. is it worth it? is it blues without frost?)
Splashy Fen 2010. 1 - 5 April - Underberg, Southern Drakensberg, KZN.
Albert Frost Trio
Bongeziwe and the fridge
Die Heuwels Fantasties
Haggis & Bong
Hog Hoggidy Hog
Redhand Blues Band
Southern Gypsey Queen
The Jack Rabbit Slims
Holly & The Woods
NICE variety. and some unfamliar names. might be worth the trek, seeing as this is the year of the 'other' festivals.
NICE variety. and some unfamliar names. might be worth the trek, seeing as this is the year of the 'other' festivals.