The Return of Snakehipsby Dustin van Zyl / 07.04.2011
Perhaps the hiatus has been too long, all the anticipation turned to ennui. Perhaps in the interim the fans have grown older, got serious jobs and started listening to Prime Circle, perhaps I’m a cynic.
It is with a little trepidation and a lot of tequila that I convince the friends I’m having dinner with to accompany me to Kitchener’s to check out DJ Snakehips. The last time I saw Felix Laband play at Fuel Cafe it was a fucking mess, the man so adept at digital he may as well have a groovebox wired directly to his brain could hardly operate a mixer, opting on a couple of occasions not to at all, the silence in between tracks was pathogenic, infecting the crowd with obstinate apathy at the artist’s demise.
Thin Shoes in June and 4/4 Down the Stairs were the soundtrack to my misspent youth, sounds arranged and manipulated to tell the story of what it was to be young and South African and frustrated and sad and hopeful. Dark Day’s Exit is an opus and in my opinion remains one of the finest albums ever produced by a South African artist.
But Dark Days Exit was just that, an exit, through a back door at what was the height of something so promising. Dark days followed.
We arrive and it’s likely that the euphoria of convincing a less than friendly police officer that I am not drunk driving and my subsequent victory dance in a Braamfontein garage forecourt has bolstered my confidence. As we pass through the door into an atmosphere full of love, sweat and rolling basslines I feel vindicated. Snakehips has been on for a couple of tracks already and the dancefloor is undulating to the deep and dirty ebb and flow of this bass heavy post-house.
“It smells like sex in here.” says one of my dinner chums.
“It feels like it too!” a stranger shouts back.
Felix drops a couple of new tracks from the formerly much anticipated not so new album Deaf Safari and it floods back, this is demon fighting music, laid out across the aural landscape that speaks from the collective consciousness of this continent itself. It is so African, and so much more, kwaito beats, marimba and tinkling keys over rolling, evil basslines, postmodern pastiche. Dark Days Exit was unanimously praised as the future of African electronica, it sounds like Deaf Safari may be the present.
Perhaps the hiatus wasn’t too long.
Images © Dustin van Zyl.