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A Time of Beasts

A Time of Beasts

by Kallak Jonesic / Images by Pieter Jordaan / 02.07.2012

Sitting down and writing about music is problematic no matter who you are or how much you know about the subject. Even Lester Bangs, the great American music writer, was culpable of straying greatly from a topic to procure enough of a reason to buck from the Toril and into the Bullring. Music must be heard and seen, not read.

Writing successfully about music depends on whether you’re in the music. When you’ve been watching football on an average of 4 hours a day, critical conclusions regarding any art form may be dinky. Since that first kickoff in Warsaw a few weeks ago, my mind has been consumed superfluously by a select group of Snotty Cockerels praised for their ability to entertain us with deeds tremendously human: running, kicking, rendering winning as more important than life itself, and avarice. Some journalists have gone as far as calling them geniuses and artists, but in reality they are here for the same reasons Orgy Porn, Talk Shows, Idols, Penn & Teller, and Julius Malema were invented – to divert attention from The Important Things and make Grinning Thralls out of all of us. For them a public gathering such as this means Harvest Time.

The past few weeks, however, have also been unusually constructive in pointing out to the rest of the world that National Socialism still runs rampant through Europe’s varicose veins. It is the eventual realization and final trepidation that The Old Continent’s youth is far more unlearned than we ever thought and much angrier than the regular, unemployed village drunkard: no chance in hell for a Black Man, Arab, Jew or Gypsy to get a taste of beneficence anytime soon. Not for a hundred years.

But let’s get into the music before things get out of control.

Inge Beckmann is notorious for her nasal timbre – it’s the one and only thing that could irritate any listener. In these steam whistle episodes you are reminded of a Sandton coo-girl, drunk on confidence and about to sink her claws in your nape; but you must remember that this is only an auditory illusion, an innocuous, unruly fault amidst oodles of applaudable positives.
One such is her musical pithiness: to hit a note without searching for it is admirable no matter what your interpretation of music may be. When Beckmann sings, her neck is goitrous, her jugulars about to detonate and sprinkle the crowd sanguinely; and if you’re somewhat of a sick bastard, you wish they do just for entertainment’s sake. Beware of making eye contact with this chanteuse or you’ll end up in a bughouse trying to lick your own elbows.

Beckmann’s new project Beast junks the guitar once again. Instead, two Basses glower at you. On the right wing Louis Nel, on the left Rian Zietsman, both of Taxi Violence. The Number 3 Player is Sasha Righini from Kooks-mimickers, The Plastics. He may just be the only dubious figure in this team. This statement does not necessarily percolate from reason but from a feeling experienced by anyone who’s seen and heard enough music to become obsessed with it: if this Beast has an ailment, it’s Righini.

“I am Gary Bailey standing next to an HD Screen of Rancor, and unless this defender starts moving with the offside trap correctly, he’ll be dropped for sure.”

Beast’s sound is colossal. In its best moments the instrumentalist trio slog like Black Sabbath, pounding at your chest as Butler and Ward once did* whilst Beckmann chants above it all, cleaving your Cranium horizontally. In certain flashes the band swings fluidly as if having played together for decades.

Nel, a drummer by trade, usually plays the more syncopated bass portions whilst Zietsman concentrates on the grit – and grit he has. It is a Southern Grit – somewhat similar to Paz Lenchantin’s distorted playing with The Entrance Band, but more controlled. If I hadn’t lost my dictaphone at a Rivonia strip joint later that night, my bootleg could have served its purpose of giving you a more objective account of this performance. I think it may have been a Russian with a beautiful rear that took it – but probably not. Others will still write about this band and you shall soon hear for yourselves what I have failed to describe.

One thing I do remember, though – without requiring the help of a recording device – is that Beast weren’t at all times all that cohesive. This is where Righini is mostly at fault. His drum compositions are frequently uncomplimentary to the music’s heave. He is too elementary in instants where he must let loose and trust Zietsman or Nel to govern the rhythm. He must play like a corroded tumble dryer full of pebbles, coins and beer cans. Instead, he is cyclical and his load is yellow bed linen. Polyrhythms, more jazz, more freak frolics, is what Beast lacks. And since it clearly strives to be new and different, it is in desperate need of more rabidity if anyone is going to take notice outside these borders.

But let me not crucify this musician all by himself, even Jesus needed company. I believe that the entire band should be lambasted for not addressing the folly of failing to dress themselves down. With one in three songs worthy of our ears, Beast needs to rapidly (or not so rapidly) compose ten more – perhaps fifteen – cut out the slack like a rancid tumor and give the audience what it deserves from a so-called “Capetonian Supergroup”. Beckmann herself ought to experiment with more compelling phrases – she too is at fault of often taking the easy route in certain segments and covering them up with her commanding persona. This trickery will not translate well in a studio.

But regardless of what I think, I’m sure that with time and such immense talent, this group will ease into the correct lope and bathe the country like a massive solar flare, turning people into maniacs and making them check their pulses for that next chest-pounding palpitation.

Other bands that performed at Newtown’s Town Hall on the 22nd of June were Shadowclub and Jet Black Camaro, both of which deserve their own dedicated reviews, but that’s not for now. Now I’m off to watch the match that’ll decide which nation gets the Green Light to behave like pompous, beastly assholes for the next few years. Winning Euro 2012 will mean more national pride and the right to assassinate everything foreign and unknown. But for survival, people have done things far worse. At least here we haven’t yet begun taking mephedrone and gnawing at each other’s faces. Not yet.

* Kudos to Bill Ward for not rejoining Sabbath for the band’s 2012 paraplegic reunion.

All images © Pieter Jordaan.

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  1. Batman says:

    Brilliant review

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  2. Andrei says:

    Nice stuff!

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  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s just a fun jam band that people seem curious about. Not a cape town ‘Supergroup’. Just some friends trying something different, having some fun. People who write about their expectations of music ruin its purity. Especially when they insist on forcing it as a product, and not an experience. Musicians are allowed to have fun too, not just audiences.

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  4. @ Anonymous says:

    I agree and disagree, If Jimmy Page, Chris Cornell, flea and Terry Bozzio made a band they would be called a supergroup, a supergroup is a group of well known musicians from famous bands getting together and making a new band. Even under the guise of a side project people would expect a lot. Inge, the plastics and taxi violence guys getting together constitutes a CT ‘Supergroup’ in anyones books. Even if their own intention was to have a little fun its not going to be interpreted as that. Surely now if what you say is true, we dont want Inge getting up on stage and giving a disclaimer to the audience “Guys thank you for your time but please dont take this seriously its just a jam” By the looks of the way beast is hyping itself of wich im sure you might be a member, this project IS taking itself seriously, and why not? It should.

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  5. 6Stringer says:

    I was sceptical of this group, specifically the 2-bass thing, but I was surprised by the sonic range that they squeeze out of the format. It does maybe tends towards a sludgy consistency after a while, though, as there’s quite a thick wall of sound in the lower and middle ranges. I guess they’re kind of like Machineri, inverted. Can’t say I agree with the writer on Righini’s drumming, this was the biggest surprise for me: the man plays like, well, a beast…

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  6. @ @ Anonymous says:

    Nope, not in the band! See… one assumption wrong already 😉

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Very nice work Steve! 😉 Belki.

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  8. Sakkie says:

    Lost me around paragraph 3 or 4. Seems that writing about music may be a bit problematic?

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  9. Mike says:

    As usual a negative slant on what was a great night. Boring, pseudo intellectual writing at its best, I feel sorry for the drummer, dosent deserve an attack I was there and the whole band absolutely rocked.

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  10. So sick of Mahala says:

    Get over yourself Kallak Jonesic.

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  11. MasalaMahala says:

    The Cape Town music scene is so over traded with wannabees who think they are talented and have something new to offer but in-fact no one outside of the border of the city bowl actually gives a rats breakfast. The bands are far from internationally competitive and this causes the festering pot of boiling puke to rot the minds of teenagers across the peninsula. Thus overflowing into the music writers skulls and too infiltrating their puny brains with utter junk juice. So we’re left with a spiral of nitt-picking scumbags and half arsed, self loathing, well below par, inferior musicians all chasing one another’s smelly poop holes. Welcome to the Jungle!

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  12. devin says:

    So you’re saying all Cape Town musicians are shit?

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  13. malba toast says:

    porky dog breath. i do like a bag of distinguished forlords of thawt

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  14. Pinky Poo says:

    My name is Faggot dog shit hole bile face. Puke Crap anus dirtbag pighole nutt slapping crock of shit. Mahala is grub snaking fuck breaking dogs droppings peace and fuck off

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  15. Pinky Poo says:

    We seem to be an overly negative bunch that are simultaneously fully aware of what we lack compared to international artists and our inability to do anything about it. I actually like maybe 4 of the 100+ bands I’ve seen in this country; the majority just never quite hit the mark. There seems to be an abundance of lazy, over-confident, incompletely-educated, partially-aware musicians here that think that because they have a Facebook page and a couple thousand fans that they’ve hit the big time. Very few bands are able to make careers out of performance and album sales in this country.

    Musicians, writers, bloggers, critics, producers, wannabees, etc in this country are always at each others throats. It is necessary to be realistic about your abilities, your goals and your likelihood of national and global success, is it necessary for all of us to be so aggressively negative and defeatist? Why can’t we all be friends?

    Maybe it’s the only way we can get better. That, or hard work, practice and perseverance.

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  16. Kilty says:

    Harsh review, the writer needs to look a more angles first, I suggest composing your gut feel can get it wrong at times, Im a musician, Id say a decent one with some inkling of good taste and I was at that show and thought it was much better than this review. I get the feeling you also really enjoyed it but couldn’t get over a sometimes sloppy but obviously talented drummer, Its a live show, sometimes it doesnt go to plan, its also one of their first, Im sure they will come together. Nicely written btw, just disagree with you.

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