Album Round-Upby Mahala / 27.01.2012
Here at Mahala albums tend to pile up and clog the trestle tables. Mostly, they’re not exactly worth a full review but definitely a mention. Occasionally we compile a selection of music you should know about, either as a recommendation or a warning.
Truth and Recession/ Brendon Shields/ RY
Ahh, the over-earnest troubadour, the plaintive longing of the loner, the thinker, the man with the guitar and ideas, and the doggone hurt, man. How often it fails, how often it comes across as twee, constructed, undeserved. Not so for Brendon Shields. There is something so genuine about Shields’ humble deliveries and ordinary Joe sentiments that they give Truth and Recession the air of a mopey masterpiece. That he seems to have sprung out of isolation lends it another level of mystique. With a fairly sparse palette of vocals, guitar, the occasional piano or banjo, some percussion and backing vocals, Shields crafts out great little folk pop numbers one after the other. This is Truth and Recession‘s success and it’s downfall; it works for the first two thirds of the album but at thirteen tracks, it becomes a little samey. It’s an assured debut that starts to feel like a cupboard clearing.
Wie’s Bang/ Van Coke Kartel/ RY
Wie’s Bang is, in some sense, a return to the hard rocking ways of Fokof for Francois and Wynand; injected with that young rock vigour by VCK’s newest band members. It’s a relentless album that relies on Jedd Kossew’s guitar skills and Francois’ pained emotive shouting more than anything else. Unfortunately it lacks the nuance, and the sense of humour, of their previous album, Skop, Skiet en Donner. If anything it’s a less mature album. This is not a bad thing entirely, VCK are kicking all sorts of ass up and down the country at the moment, and Wie’s Bang is a solid reflection of the power of that live set. It is, by no means something that you can play in the background, mostly because the album relies on volume, not song writing. If you look at Wie’s Bang as the first album of the new VCK, it’s a ballsy debut, but as part of the VCK oeuvre, it’s a skilled rehash of past ideas.
Sine and Moon/ Jonti/ AVW
After the release of his debut album Twirligig South African born Australian producer Jonti has released this free download, of mainly reworked B-sides and unreleased material, to take his experimentation of off-kilter beats and bubbly psychedelic synths to a new level. Unlike many producers belonging to the Post-Dilla movement, such as Knxwledge, he has abandoned the philosophies of “killing commercialism”. He has embraced the melody based pop which has surrounded him, taking inspiration from artists such as The Beach Boys, Stereolab and Free Design. Though this can be seen as an “interim” release leading to his forthcoming sophomore, Tokorats, this is a highly cohesive release which stands alone as a strong effort. Sine and Moon is filled with highly intricate liquid beats, filled with glitches and peeps, which flow across a deeply cerebral landscape of gentle acoustic guitars and wobbly funk bass lines. Opening track “Saturday Night Songs” is a soft display of gentle indie folk which resonates through the album, as it leads into “Red on Green” which blends resounding gospel vocals with a simple hip hop beat while a looping synth floats across your earphones. The rest of the album can be described as “the same old stuff”. Jonti shows off his text book Lo-fi influenced droned funk mixed with intergalactic pop experimentalism, while little deviations into other territories pop up here and there. The highlights are most definitely “Nagoya Train Station 3AM”, which runs on crude and rough drum lines with a colourful setting of synthesizers and Theremin, and “Koi Moon’s Daughter part II” which mixes African percussion with harmonizing vocals. But overall the album is a robust effort which builds anticipation for his forthcoming album which will be sure to impress.
Soul Is Heavy/ Nneka/ TM
Nigerian-born Germany-based Nneka Egbuna has quietly carved a niche for herself since her first introduction to the world of music in the form of 2005’s Uncomfortable Truth EP. Her third album, Soul Is Heavy, is a re-affirmation of an artist comfortable with her craft, yet willing to explore the subtleties of a varied sonic territory in an attempt to invite the listener into her world. She is a revolutionary, and spews forth messages of hope, love, and struggle over a bedrock of reggae, soul, and gospel-tinged grooves. She carries with her the spirit of Fela, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and Isaac Boro; the spirit of humans who suffer daily in the oil-fields of the Delta region; and the spirit of Afrika and all her problems. Album opener “Lucifer” is a chilling, bass-heavy crucifixion of the evils of money and its impact on the world, while “My Home” is a lament of sorts as she asks “where will I go when this world forsakes me/ who do I turn to when they put me down”. Fela’s V.I.P gets a re-visit, Mexican-style, while she sings: “U dey kill, u dey seal, u dey fight/ every cheer, you dey lie”. She is joined by Black Thought on the urgent-sounding “God Knows Why”, while Ms. Dynamite waxes lyrical on the infectious charm of “Sleep”. The entire album is filled with an impressive array of subject matter, all executed perfectly through the lens of a pragmatic songstress unafraid to question, condemn, and appraise the state of human affairs.
RY – Roger Young
AVW – Andrei Van Wyk
TM – Ts’eliso Monaheng