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Black South Easter

Black South Easter

by Brandon Edmonds / 03.08.2010

Sometimes you want to drop the critical apparatus. Drop it hard. So it cracks and all the unsaid things spill out. Objectivity is such a bitch. It’s Nurse Ratchett in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. A forbidding, tight-lipped, essentially perverse rule-setting party-pooper. It’s also entirely necessary – otherwise the lunatics take over the asylum, and nothing gets done. So there’s the tension. It’s a tussle defining the evolution of consciousness. Rules, rationality and freedom. This over-reaching language (in what is essentially a webzine, or a “youth culture tabloid” as someone put it to me) is seldom justified. Write like this for academia. For LitCrit quarterlies published by sapless pedants in Grahamstown, in Vermont, in Berkeley, in Walthamstow and Knysna. Indeed. Kid’s want snark. They want outrage. They want gonzo excess. Online life is sordid, shallow, aggressive and low. On the whole. Not this time! This time we’re keeping it classy, Sandiago. Because fuck me with a feral legion of priapic Werewolves (all the disgruntled LA gym boys who failed the Twilight cut), fuck me with a mountain-sized dildo fashioned from the melted down chassis’ of a squadron of Black Hawks, fuck me with the still-frozen head of Walt Disney – the new Benguela CD is stupendously good!

Their CD launch at the Theatre in the District, a fine stone church, was easily the best live thingy I’ve seen this year. Along with sinuously affecting slacker geetar maestro, Righard Kapp, finally over his maudlin hibernation, Benguela put on a staggeringly convincing display of invented, conjured sound – feeling each other out like amorous pickpockets, taking time over the song, letting it rise, supernaturally sensitive to sonic possibility, to drawing wonders from tiny piles of off-notes and repetitions, until locking messily onto a riff you feel you helped fathom, just by being there, so involving and open-ended is their approach. This is star-kissed movie music for open minds. Music filthy with ideas. Expansively seductive. Out of control control. You want to drive to it. Conceive to it. You want surgeons opening the top of your head to pour it all in. Bathe your children in it. Cut grass to it. Make bonfires as it peals from the speakers. Slip it into the purses of nuns. Have its musical notation tattooed onto loved ones. Too much? Who cares? Shit this good is rare as dreams that come true. As everlasting love.

The CD Black Southeaster is now out on Kapp’s garage label Jaunted Haunts Press. They carry all Kapp’s work, obviously, as well as winsome sprite Ella Joyce Buckley, and the Buckfever Underground: all worth rooting around in if you’re remotely beguiled by homemade quality. It’s probably germane to run through the band and their pedigree. Brydon Bolton is on double bass. He looks like he’s wearing a life-size Jerry Garcia costume. The same girth. The same beard. Except The Grateful Dead never had a bass monster like Brydon. The man plucks like Farmer Brown (“Pacific Gyre”). He’s the chthonic core of the band. He plays like its Berlin in the 1930s. Dramatic and true. Bum-quaking bass notes. Deep reach groove. Alex Bozas on guitar has moments on this release (“Killer Frog Fungus”) that take axe play to Mothers of Invention levels of free flowing skronking beauty. If there’s a more supple and inventive guitarist in the country, I’ll drink a hatful of sputum. Which brings us to the drummer. I’ll never laugh at drummer jokes again. Ross Campbell is the drumming equivalent of the greatest period in your life. Think back. Maybe you were young. Maybe you were rich. Maybe you were getting some. He’s that good. Nothing less than life-affirming. The kind of facility and grace you find in tightrope walkers and ballerina’s. Real artists. Listen to him smack up a storm on the titular “Black Southeaster” – this is John Bonham heavy, yet shot through with precision and deftness. Control and release. Hear him sweetly tap “Meridian” into teeming life and try with all your might not to bob your head in unison. Bob your head, and bow. This band redeems us all. If South African music is Dorothy’s Kansas homestead – Benguela is the tornado. You need this.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Edmonds, you golden god!

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  2. yes but says:

    I am always suspicious of reviews that are as unanimously positive and glowing as this one. No album is that universally good and without its flaws. Brandon, I think the post-gonzoid hyperbole has got the better of you here, to the point that you may have inadvertently written another SA music industry puff-piece. Are some people going to check this album out and find that it really is not to their taste, even though the language you used here was?

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  3. brandon edmonds says:

    Take a gander at that opening sentence. The last thing I wanted to be was even-handed – painstakingly weighing flaws and faults. Sometimes you just gotta explode with goodwill. Try it.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    cocaine sentences

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  5. Andy says:

    Jesus “Yes But” he’s a good, credible writer – he liked what he saw. He wrote about it. A puff piece suggests that he put aside his critical facilities and lauded them falsely, for other reasons. Brandon actually just enjoyed the show and the album. He didn’t have anything bad to say. Is that so bad? Now try and extract your head from your “objective” and “balanced” rectum.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    dude your language is on some other level. what a treat.

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  7. Pierrot le fou says:


    How are you funding this webzine by the way? Where do you get the money from? There isn’t much paid-for advertising, by the looks of it, on the sidebars. How is this thing still running? And are you making a profit of it?

    Don’t get all ‘I don’t like to talk about money’ with me. I think that, as a piece, holds some general intrigue. How did Mahala start off, what are the challenges of writing this sort of journalism on the internet and in this country, is it profitable, is it going anywhere, how do you guys finance yourself. There are lots of young fucks in this country who’d like to be doing this sort of stuff.

    Is this magazine going to last much longer?

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  8. Andy says:

    Pierrot… this message board is not the place to discuss such things. These comment boards are to further elucidate the concepts and debates around the specific article. Rather send me an email. andy@mahala.co.za

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  9. Captain Lombard says:

    “feeling each other out like amorous pickpockets, taking time over the song, letting it rise, supernaturally sensitive to sonic possibility, to drawing wonders from tiny piles of off-notes and repetitions, until locking messily onto a riff you feel you helped fathom, just by being there” … This is seriously good stuff. Wow. I feel like I’ve had one of those big dildos up my ass – and it felt completely pleasurable. Exhilarating even.

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  10. Captain Lombard says:

    Oh – and that Black Southeaster album is really that good. They are easily the best and most talented band in South Africa – by far.

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  11. admirer says:

    writing this good should be illegal, i feel it deserves more than just a click on a website, it should be smuggled through hats and bread loaves and enjoyed secretly in dark basements with police sirens in the background…

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  12. Anonymous says:

    nice puff piece.

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  13. Dedalus says:

    Great, now I have to put my eyes out with a garden fork for fear of reading something that just doesn’t come near this piece.

    Question begs, can the band live up to THIS?

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  14. Doto Na Fans says:

    Who’s the photographer?

    What kind of car are they sitting in in that first photo?

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  15. brandon edmonds says:

    I see what you’re doing. I’m onto you. It’s dizzyingly lame.

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  16. mick says:

    Lucid, bra.

    You peel naked sense into the obtuse of alphabet. No widdle feat..
    Kanna wait to breathe that there dark current!

    And much Ta, Benguela, for releasing again.!

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  17. Doto Na Fans says:


    You have a funny way of writing.

    @ brandon edmonds

    Whose doing what that’s dizzyingly lame. I, on the hand, just want to know who the photographer was and what kind of car that is.

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  18. vertroof says:

    This is brilliant brilliant writing.

    The music it’s writing about is just a bit whatever though.

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  19. whatEver says:

    You’re going too far, they’re really not THAT good. Some of us older kids might feel quite fondly towards their sound, but you have elevated them beyond recognition with this ‘review.’ There are many other, far more lively, inventive and passionate musos out in Cape Town at the moment… and my guess is they will never be written about on Mahala, at least not in this over-the-top way, how to top this? Ag, nie – the ‘uncanny valley’ has got me now, and I want to hit ‘kak’ for a band I would have hit ‘kif’ for without thinking.

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  20. debbie havarti says:

    Hey wE, care to name some some of those other lively and passionate CT musos? I would be genuinely interested in checking them out.

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  21. brandon edmonds says:

    Oh I can top this. Top and tail it. Any day of the week. And that’s officially my self-aggrandizing macho blurt of the day out of the way.

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  22. Ross says:

    Top – Andrew Parker – old BMW
    Bottom – Jonx Pillemer
    Brandon – holy fuck you made brydon laugh so hard we almost crashed the car!! muchos gracias

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  23. brandon edmonds says:

    Don’t thank me – thank my rock-writing master: Lester Bangs! This is niks compared to his stuff.

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  25. heppy says:

    mense love to hate. hating on brandon. suspicious of the band. hating on mahala.
    when you eat your cornflakes in the morning do you hate every cornflake in the bowl.
    @andy: keep up the good work. i discover new things happening in mzansi that i wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
    @brandon: keep writing. you should be used to the hate by now. i like your stuff. mostly.
    @ haters: keep hating. it’s still attention. most productive types use it for fuel.


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