27 October 2008

Look At Them Shine

24 October
Electric Affair
Sunningdale’s Hotel
Sassquatch, Marc Latilla, King of Town, Young Smuts & Richard Berold

If you have a problem with Sunningdale’s Hotel, now is about the time to get over it. My fellow poster quite eloquently described its general crust after GIFT’s farewell gig, and it’s a seediness that’s unlikely to change no matter how much glitter the Cool Kids threaten to drag in. However, that doesn’t change the Real Issue – nothing can change the Real Issue. And that’s because, the Real Issue is the music. Venues and visuals and flier designs are great, especially when they’re of the caliber that we’ve been seeing out of VJs like flikerr and artists like Ben Rausch and Jean De Wet (to name drop those names I actually know). When it really comes down to it, though, glossy posters don’t make you dance. King of Town does.

The combination of Sunningdale’s Hotel and the genre name ‘Italo Disco’ attracted a certain class of clientele the organizers probably weren’t expecting – think early (laydees) to late (okes) 30s Lusito Land. It may not necessarily have been the anticipated crowd, but it sure didn’t hurt to have more people through the door than at the first Secret and Sovereign combined. The venue was busy but not packed, smoky but not suffocating, and the disco lights illuminating the tiny dancefloor were doing their disco best.

When King of Town hit that mixing deck, though, I could have been at the fish counter in Pick n Pay and I still would have been dancing. 80s space disco isn’t a genre I was especially excited about; the whole concept of Electric Affair flew over my born-in-‘89 head – as I think it did for quite a few others, hence the puny turn out of Kids in the Scene. But, of course, genre isn’t the Real Issue either, now is it? With impeccable track selection, smooth mixes and the finest control of mood and tempo, King of Town rarely disappoints – but this was something entirely in its own class. Just as I was lamenting the end of one great track, and even sweeter, sexier one would come in. Man-nipples popped, skinny jeans flared and the universe exploded into infinite golden light with Tiga’s You Gonna Want Me. We gradually regained form, mass and tailoring, but that wallop of awesome would not be forgotten. Electric Affair went from dated and creepy to a vessel for fresh genius and the hope of a brand new strain of parties to pick up from where the death of Tokyo, Sovereign and Canned Applause left us.

I don’t think disco will be the new genre to end all genres; I don’t think Electric Affair will be the new party to end all parties. What I do hope, though, is that the spirit of friends getting together and throwing parties to play the music they want to play is back for good. And if the music they want to play is disco… I’ll meet you under the mirror ball baby.


24 October 2008

Taking Time To Perfect The Beat (But They Still Have Love for the Street)

22 October
Mario Marchisella, Marianne Halter, João Orrechia

After the late-term abortion that was the disbanding of Five Men Three Missing, the chance to see João (the one with the healthy hair) perform again was pretty exciting to begin with. Add in two Swiss artists with all the right buzz words (visuals, electro acoustic… uhm… Swiss.) and you’ve got yourself two space cadets eating some mushrooms and expecting some sparks. Sparks, however, were not on offer this sticky Wednesday at Melville’s Berlin.

What we did get was a slow, deep, amber Burn that turned our brains into ripe brie. Mario Marchisella along with visual artist Marianne Halter have been living in Johannesburg as part of Prohelvetia’s artist residency program, creating the piece “The Conductor’s Fear of The Soloist”. Using the multi-plugs and knobs made familiar to Joburg audiences by the looping genius of 5m3m shows, as well as “self made instruments” (including a wonky bell/cymbal type structure, two modified vuvuzelas and an empty 5l water bottle), Mario creates multi-layered though surprisingly light soundscapes. The songs are warm and easy, full of hazy lines and gentle slopes. With my modified brain I was right in there with the ebbs and sweeps immediately, but the shifting and speaking of my fellow audience members made it clear they were less engaged. The visuals (by Marianne, projected into a clever gold picture frame on the wall) were slick and attractive, but probably didn’t help to catch anyone’s attention either. As the performance grew and Mario became more animated, though, layers became more dense and recognizable and the room at large began to pay attention. Mario himself was the most concrete element of the performance. With his plastic specs, ill-fitting clothing, glossy mustache and that silver watch winking out against the Real Man black arm hair, Mario looked more like a 50s NASA technician than a Swiss musician. His attention was firmly entrenched in the sound, whether seated behind his desk full of gadgets or crouched over them in the semi squat that creased the toes of those well-polished Real Man shoes. From my seat next to the window, I was able to see every button-squeeze and bell-tinkle as it happened; the shapes and textures of the soundscapes were accessible and direct. For a while, probably in the middle third of the set, we Got It. The rounded corners and fuzzy covering were peaked with tension as the sounds grew deeper and richer. Every twiddle of Mario’s fingers held the promise of chaos and “Houston, we have a problem”.

We just never got to the problem. We never hit the spark. The Burn was good – the Burn was great. Its probably the best Burn I’ve had in a while, and I’m the kind of girl who goes looking. My dead academic brain couldn’t even begin to understand the kind of inspiration that bore such unique, innovative and exacting use of sound. It was genius; it embarrassed me. But by the last song most of the original audience had bailed. Those who hadn’t left were wasted, gossiping, lolling on the upstairs couches oblivious to the performance right below them – and my space cadet partner and I were trying a lot harder than we should have been to keep our mouths closed. Maybe we’re just not ready for this. We (the mass mind, royal We) are supposed to be going through a karmic cleansing for at least the next 90 years – Hitler, Apartheid, global warming, the inability to listen to more than 45 minutes of experimental music… With a few words about thank you for listening, we had a short break to try to recover our minds before Mario began his set with João.


I was late. Berlin was besieged by the overdressed and underfed (and, I guess, due to exams, not too much young blood), and the stage area (if that) was empty but for the dozens of little musical contraptions. Laid out on the tables were empty tomato-cans, bits of sandpaper, fancy looping equipment (including a very sweet looking Kaoss pad) and a vintage selection of guitars, amps and, uh, vuvuzelas. The squishy sofas were evacuated soon, and out of the crowd stepped João Orrechia and Mario Marchisella. Past a projector, which beamed images onto a makeshift frame of people walking across said frame. I'm sure it had a meaning of some kind, but I was busier watching the performers. Both carried themselves in an air befitting the groovy librarian you never knew. It was an aesthetic well suited to what we were about to witness.

First Mario, his giant retro spectacles testing the strength of his nose-bridge, sat down, leather boots turned up and gadgets turned on. With what looked like an ice-cream stick, he tapped a 4/4 on a tiny bit of tin-can architecture, then looped the beat. João whipped out a vintage Eko bass and recorded a short riff. Slowly, in a methodical, brick-laying sort of way, each element was tested, recorded and looped. Occasionally, beats and twitches were modified and edited. Like an exploded view of a skyscraper, everything suddenly clicked back into place, the building was complete and everything was in its right place. And then everything died.

The songs were built like one-off pieces of art, temporary and fleeting. Beautiful because they sounded amazing, but also because you knew that they would soon be gone and could never be the same.

I was happy, though, to be aware of the creation before me. Sure, I can't tell you today what I heard, and sure, you may never know, but the fact that I heard the music of these two men with a few strange instruments is enough to keep me happy. I was trying to find some reference point to describe what i heard ("Four Tet, but simpler and cleaner... or not like Four Tet at all..."), but I ran myself in circles and decided that there was no real point.

I couldn't start describing it even if I wanted to.


Big thanks to Sam Hill for the photos for the night - they were awesome.

10 October 2008

The Last of the Centurion Playboys

9 October 2008

Commodore 64



Data Takashi

Sunningdale Hotel

The end of greensiforturbo is upon us. This is a sad moment. Having only seen them live twice, at Shut Up I'm Dancing parties, I'd forgotten just how good they were. They're really good. No, they were really good. They made the Gummy Bears' theme better that the original material. They took everything I like about Grandaddy and the Flaming Lips and added their own splash of pop-post-punk to it and ran with it. They ran so far and fast I even forgot they were from Centurion.

That was a brief epitaph.

Now, on with the show.

For those of you who do not know, all of you, I live near the venue. I walk on the otherside of the street when I need to pass. There are ladies of the night near the doors. The Sirloin special seems special for all the wrong reasons. Also, I'm a pussy. The bar-restaurant area was specially imported from 1972 Bloemfontein. It smelled of vomit and moldy carpeting. It smelled of the old and sickly. This was ok, I guess, because Commodore 64 was busting out some old favourites (Tokyo Police Club, Peter Bjorn & John, Modest Mouse et al.) and slowly people moved from the benched eating area toward the makeshift dancefloor. I like hearing old-ish indie songs. They make me happy and warm with recognition and nostalgia.

But soon, draped in a green glow and ironic t-shirts, arrived GIFT. Such an acronym has never been more accurate. Starting with the crowd pleasing Gummy Bears theme tune, warped into something completely different, soaked in synths and reverb, it gave the song some strange sense of pathos. Yes. Stitching together the pop-sense of Grandaddy and Lips recordings, plus the wistfulness of late-90s Death cab (you know, when they were good and not creepy) GIFT worked their way through a really good set. The keyboards and some inventive drumming set their sound apart from other indie-pop acts that we've seen recently. Sadly, however, the band is no more. Drummer Rod Roodt is leaving our shores, and the band (quite honourably) have decided not to attempt to replace him. So that's it. I'm glad I saw them one last time, and hope you've had your experience well documented too. If you weren't here, however, you would have missed all three DJs storm the modest stage and rock out with the band for the last time. It was truly heart-warming stuff. As is Rumba.

As people milled about after the show, Sassquatch moved things up a gear, with more electro-indie, with new remixes of song we know - which is also like the warm feeling we got before, just with added "wow, that's funky" in the mix.

And, as the candied cherry on top of an wicked-awesome chocolate sundae, Data Takashi rounded things off. Swinging from Beach Boys sing-a-longs to the awesome blending of "Crying " off the new TV on the Radio to "No Diggity" by Blackstreet (my personal favourite moment of the night, thank you).

It was a fitting goodbye.

06 October 2008

Freeness is the Same as Awesomeness.

4 October 2008

The Alexander Theatre

easytiger vs. DJ Badly
King of Town vs. ManKaZam
Data Takashi vs. VEREVÜLFF

I don't know if you've heard. The world's money is falling apart. Its stuck inside vaults and no-one can lend or borrow it. House are soon to be repossessed and turned into Gulags. We're all doomed.

Through the smoky haze (caused by the burning of pension funds) comes a single piercing beam of light, one blinding vision of a better tomorrow. Julius Malema. Also, the End is Free. Malema, unfortunately, had a prior engagement and was unable to attend.

He missed out. There was a glorious sense of dignity I felt as I was frisked by the now familiar bouncers: I could have a night out, dance to awesome music, talk to my friends and be choked by a smoke machine, for free. This is what Lenin envisioned for the Soviets. One continuous frisking. Also, free parties.

I got there rather early (say 9.30), desperate not to miss out on my free entry to the free party and the free admission stamp thrown in. Slowly the place filled up, like rain in a bucket, and volume levels rose. Also, rain-into-bucket-style.

The dance floor was even dimmer than usual, only the bar and DJ stage were truly visible - the only important things one needs to see, of course. Added for tonight was a tiny dancing podium in front of the DJ-area. Girls flooded it before realising that 10 people could only stand and look silly, and not dance and look silly on it. Amateurs.

And indeed there should have been dancing, on the stage and on the floor - but not on the concrete balcony, according to the bouncers. The DJ battle-format employed was appreciated by the crowd (the largest here, I estimate, since the Desmond album launch), and put out electro, with odd splashes of pop favourites and old school hip hop novelties too keep us singing along. Particularly appreciated was the remix of Beirut's "Nantes" and Kris Kross' "Jump Jump", to which we all put our clothes on backwards.

Having been out to other venues in recent times, I've come to appreciate old Alex a bit more. The massive capacity, as well as the moderate temperatures are really welcome. 88 was a reminder that sweating like Bear Grylls in the Sahara is a look that only works for him.

This week, after the free-experiment (which, I hope, worked financially, for all our sakes) in social upliftment, we return to boring old capitalism with Greenisforturbo and The Horse Productions Launch Party bringing us back to poverty.

That's what happened in the USSR too, right?

01 October 2008

The Best Band In The World Today

Is TV On The Radio.

This is not an outlandish statement. This is not hyperbole. This is just fact, and (like the phenomena of gravity or climate change) this fact is proved by mathematics and scientific reasoning. The mathematics and scientific reasoning involved is far too complex to explain here, but trust me: it exists. It proves the fact. Therefore it is fact.

Perhaps you're sitting at home reading this (as many thousands doubtless are), and wondering: "But hey, aren't, like U2 the best band in the world?". The which I respond "No", and also "Buy a new brain." There may be other pretenders to the throne, most of which are simply pretenders, and never The Pretenders. Radiohead, perhaps, come closest to the title of Best Band In The World Today. But they do not clinch it. They would win, hands-down, the title of Best Band Of Our Generation. But TV on The Radio pwn all others due to one simple reason: Dear Science,.

In the two or three weeks since I've, um, owned the album, I've listened to it with varying degrees of concentration. Firstly there was Golden Age - with its Thriller-esque vibe and promises of light at the end of the tunnel. Along with Dancing Choose, a fervent rap-soul combo underscored by urgent horns on high-alert, I found the immediate, primal dance to this album. But once you delve deeper, into a song like DLZ, with its slow build, barked chants and trip-hop feel, you begin to truly understand the genius behind this band. Cryptic lyrics, impassioned "ooohs" and "la's" from Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe and moulded and crafted by bespectacled Dave Sitek. Sitek, producer and multi-instrumentalist has largely ditched the bombastic aural assault of TVOTR (also great) previous albums, instead clarifying and enhancing the tones from his guitar as well as giving bassist Gerard Smith and drummer Jaleel Bunton more of a platform than they've had before.

What is truly impressive, though, is that TVOTR have managed the transition from underground cult-act, to this major-label release with the dexterity other similar bands couldn't manage. Recently Interpol (also New Yorkers, also jumping from indie to major) put out the heavy, rather leaden Our Love to Admire, and the Shins' Wincing the Night Away just didn't work out as everyone hoped it would.

2008 and TVOTR is different. Everything that made Desperate Youth... and Return to Cookie Mountain great, but perhaps stopped those albums from being amazing, is still here. But a new sense of depth and an appreciation for structure is evident on Dear Science,, and that makes Dear Science,...better.

Simply put, no band has come close this year to matching TVOTR. Listen to Love Dog and then try and argue differently.

Far Out

Indie-psychedelic-hip-hop...has a ring to it.

Koushik works in creating hip-hop based downbeat tracks that guarantee head bobbing and/or slow swaying. Koushik is often compared to popular contemporaries such as Four tet(who released Koushik's first single on his Text label), RJD2, DJ Shadow and Caribou. Although similar, Koushik is the rebellious supernatural lab experiment that escaped and is spreading his own brand of rainbow-sunshine-happy goodness. Koushik incorperates melodious psychedelic tunes inspired from the 60s, old school regimented hip-hop beats and his soft spaced out vocals into his tracks. Koushik’s new album Out My Window (released on September 30, 2008) is the neatly presented example of his mad skills.