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Kesivan Naidoo Closet Snare

How Boredom Saved Jazz

by Max Barashenkov / 26.11.2010

Boredom is the enemy. Boredom is the creeping death. Boredom is the bane of those that live by the cult of the New. Boredom is also the force behind the quest for innovation, for the pushing of boundaries. Boredom drives you out of your comfort zone, makes you go to gigs alone on Wednesday nights. It makes you get hooked on a band with ten-minute songs when all your favourite tracks rampage for no longer than a minute and a half. And while there is no certain way of telling what fuels Closet Snare, my bet is that boredom has something to do with it.

Would I normally go see an ‘experimental jazz’ act launching their live album recorded three years ago? No. But tonight, I’m ready to sing praises to the beautiful, emptying bitch that led me to Assembly. Loser kid in the corner with a notepad and beer bottles for friends, content as fuck, getting his mind blown, that’s me. Ask me a week ago, and I would say that We Set Sail are the best instrumental band under the mountain, ask me now, and Closet Snare dethrone the Sailors with graceful ease. What makes me grin even more like a retard is the lack of the hipster crowd that usually breeds on the couches of the Assembly. The Closet Snare audience is an oddity in the fickle, image-obsessed Cape Town scene – they know no creed, wear no immediately identifiable signifiers of their chosen social circle, they seem to be a disorientating blend of old punks, rude boys, jazz connoisseurs, venue owners, electro fiends, rastas and mature family men. Why are they here? Are they a step ahead of me and have tasted the semi-secret delight of Closet Snare before? Or were they driven here by boredom, by the stagnation of the post-indie sound that usually floods this stage? Whatever their reasons, I feel like I belong despite being alone – a cliché, revoltingly-sugary image unless experienced in earnest.

Lee Thomson Closet Snare

Closet Snare’s music is overwhelmingly complex, dense enough to swim in. It is not dance music, though you will move, it is not show-off music, though you will be scraping your jaw off the floor, it is not even listening music, it is appreciation music. Total immersion in sound and visuals with the addiction rate of heroin. I’m in over my head with the only frame of reference being Weather Report, the jazz-fusion outfit to which Closet Snare seem to make a tongue-in-cheek reference on their ‘Havvy Weather’ track. They don’t mix styles, they craft them into something distinctly theirs, something that might be a bit too much for those who are used to accessibility, to easily distinguishable sounds, to established trends. Forlorn horn melodies that slip into head-spinning solos, subtle but imaginative electro rhythms that come to the fore when you least expect them, absolutely insane drum work changing beats every ten seconds or so without loosing the coherency of sound, solid guitar/bass backing… Dilute this band by two measures of desire for commercial success, divide by three and you can get a kick-ass ska-jazz act, a progressive electro outfit and a one-man-band drum demon. The technical praise can go on forever, but who am I to judge this? This band shouldn’t be told about, this band needs to be heard and their ‘Live at the Armchair Theatre’ record, available through African Dope, is the best review Closet Snare can get.

Closet Snare

In terms of performance, the band sets a whole new level. The intensity of the duel between the two ‘frontmen’, Lee Thomson on the trumpet and Kesivan Naidoo on the drums, is what first hooks you in. Both musicians are scarcely rivaled in their mastery and the abandon of their delivery infects you from the eyes right down to the soul. Despite the music’s complexity, despite the fact that most people don’t know how to dance to it, the band freaks out on stage, the guitarist and bassist spazzing in cubist angles, Mr. Sakitumi bouncing with the ferocity of a hedgehog on speed, all wearing conscious smiles reserved for those who know that they are doing something really fucking good. The music is only two-thirds of the Closet Snare canvass, the rest being the visual material mixed live by Inka Kendzia – rows upon rows of mannequins repeating the same moves in a gloriously cut marionette dance, glitching memories of childhood looped into a vortex, lines of multi-coloured highway markings running away behind you like the end scene of Terminator 2. The intention behind the inclusion of Inka in the band is clear – under her screens, the show becomes more of an experience than a simple gig – but, because the music is so good, the VJ work comes off as a bit lacking – the transitions between songs are weak, the frequent reliance on randomized pattern flow is trite when compared to actual cinematic image looping. The only, sourly unwanted, criticism that can be leveled at Closet Snare is that the visual material needs to step up its game to match the audio.

To say that I leave the Assembly that night as a changed man would be an overstatement, but my horizons have definitely been blown far open – I find myself researching the New Orleans jazz culture, downloading obscure electronic drone acts, causing the parentals to wonder if I’m OK because I haven’t listened to that ‘dastardly screaming noise’ for a whole week. All hail boredom! All hail the boredom-destroyers!

Closet Snare

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RESPONSES (27)
  1. Lizzy says:

    nice! wish i had been there. genre non specific is always the best kind of music and scene.

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  2. Them Damners says:

    Nice, Max. Welcome to wierd world of jazz 2.0

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  3. crossbow says:

    Eish mahala, will you and Sarf Efrica ever learn the difference between loose and lose. Sort that one out and then we’ll have a little chat about canvas and canvass.

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  4. Andy says:

    so many words to edit… zzz… at least you get the gist.

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  5. Andy says:

    uh where is aforementioned loose/lose mistake?

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  6. crossbow says:

    “…absolutely insane drum work changing beats every ten seconds or so without loosing the coherency of sound, solid guitar/bass backing” Jesus Andy, are you blind?

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  7. josh says:

    good concord is for teachers and Germans. nice article.

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  8. Henk says:

    They blew me away at Rocking the Daisies

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  9. Face melting trumpet solos..

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  10. Otros Otros Bali says:

    Jesus crossbow, are you some anal copyrighter? Oh…wait…make that anal copyWriter.

    Ma gavte la nata, ponsonby. This is Africa, take your gringo lingo nazism and shove it where the sun don’t shine.

    besos xxx

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  11. Andy says:

    thanks for pointing it out crossbow… we’d like to get it right. By way of apology I’ll let your angry and entitled snark slide.

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  12. BCoop says:

    Dude, you live with your parents?

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  13. mike says:

    or prehapsh a member of WSS….

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  14. jazz beard says:

    funny i thought the total opposite – the band was ok and the visuals were frikken awesome!

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  15. dudie says:

    the electronics in this band are not needed – scratching makes it cheese.

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  16. dudie says:

    crossbow should go live in switzerland and become a CA.

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  17. Max says:

    i live with the parents until acidic writing actually makes me $

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  18. Grenville says:

    Some dude who lives with his mom thinks inka kendzia should step her game up? Give me a break! Her game pays for the house she lives, takes her on international projects and tours and she is so in demand that any band would be happy that she is even available. Its all too easy to diss hard working artists from the comfort of your mom’s house.

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  19. Republik says:

    It’s hard to be humble when you’re from Hout Bay.

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  20. States the Obvious says:

    The Parlotones game also pays for their houses and takes them on international tours.

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  21. Max says:

    Grenville – sorry mate, but you are a douchebag. plain and simple.

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  22. skye says:

    Jesus, what does max’s living with his parents have to do with anything?! cool article dude. bummed i missed the show.

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  23. jolene says:

    I love it when someone lightbulbs what real jazz is – music that’s never existed before – where the hardwork required for mastering instruments collides with the plucking from the air of the music that ravages through the underlying rhythms and fabric waves of reality – music that blows your soul right open and leaves you high for days —- yum yum yum.

    That might sound a little esoteric, but for me good music is one of the best highs.

    “Are they a step ahead of me…?” Yes. That’s why only boring people would want to be 20 forever:)

    I’d like to thank Max’s parents for supporting him – I enjoy his articles even when he was writing about bands with a repertoire of 3-chords and a distortion pedal…

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  24. Max says:

    jolene, my parents thank you right back 🙂

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  25. Raiven says:

    Jazz rocks…it’s the way of the future.

    Bands like Closet Snare give it a great modern, accessible edge. Hopefully this will help broaden peoples minds, mostly musicians of other genres who could study the amount of discipline required to master technical skills, crowd interaction, improvisation, understanding of complex melodic, harmonic and rhythmic interactions as well as communication between the other people that they jam with.

    Great band, great guys.

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  26. SouthernSkeptic says:

    Max – the man who lent me his Johnny Cash Anthology – now comes up with this! Enjoying your voyage of discovery Max! I have a few hundred slabs of vinyl that you need to hear …

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  27. optional says:

    MAX you rock my cock

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