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Die See

Die See

by Nadine Theron / 21.06.2011

Die See, believe it or not, are a Pretoria based band. You don’t have to be completely Afrikaans to know that the name and the place are very far removed. The poetic foundation of a name as enchanting as that puts them at an unfair advantage before their music has even been heard. So does the album-cover. If you didn’t know there was a SAMA category for best designed album-cover, this obscure little debut was nominated for its coveted polished black sleeve from which a pearly abalone shell shines bright. A number of the songs on the self-titled debut album are fished from their name. Which all has nothing to do with Pretoria. And at the same time it has everything to do with Pretoria and the mood and the tone set by Die See’s music.

Their single, or as close as any song from this genre is to becoming a hit, “Vrystaat”, was named by Mail & Guardian writer Lloyd Gedye as his song of the year. Simple in lyrical content but heaving with sensual anger, it intimately searches for freedom and forgiveness (they go hand-in-hand for us Afrikaners). Not only is the sound neo-boere-bedrog (in other words, post-Belville Afrikaans music), the band members are slightly older too and a bit over it, whatever it is, in general. “African Americana” as Gedye called it and wrote a whole feature on the genre. A lot of their fans, like him, are English. Just like being in Pretoria fosters an idolatry of the sea, so does not being in Pretoria contribute to an attachment to the band. Fans are mostly un-Pretorian. It’s bluesy, it’s sinister, it’s as Afrikana as the collected works of literature from the printing press that goes by that name.

On this album, Die See’s debut, they sing about the Pretorian garden summers, the joy of a swimming pool and the ice-cream vans in the suburbs in a grimy and frustrated way. Like an ice-cream melting in his heart, Henry Cadle Ferreira, the singer, groans. But it’s also about the sea. The sea, for Pretorians and Vaalies in general, holds the promise of happiness, sunshine,holidays and good times… The sea is the ultimate if you’re in Pretoria. “Almal wil ’n huisie by die see hê”, sang Koos Kombuis, who went to school in Pretoria. Nostalgic, somber but not negative, yet longing for that which you only get doused in once a year. Although you know it’s there all year long, it does not belong to you nor do you belong to it. Pretorians singing about the sea like a virgin writing a book on her sex life. The feeling is empty but filled with promise of what you are missing out on. Not having something preoccupies the mind, and the constant longing for that is often integral to a person’s existence.

“McDougall’s Baai” is a half-way instrumental, a pit-stop of song en-route. Time for reflection on the first half of the album. It was written about a small beach on the West Coast. The lyrics on the album are generally simplistic and perhaps too simple. A bit depressing at times, but just before the drowning vocals become unbearable a lighter song is strummed in and the vision of an old man mumbling about the state of our nation under his breath as he walks away. Lyrically, and maybe this is why an English speaking South African has so far been the biggest evangelist of the album, it doesn’t quite provide as much poetry as the music, the name and the album cover suggest it should. You have to fish deeper than the words and make your own meaning to justify the relation. Images evoked by the music leave me of quotes scribbled in a moleskine after a walk on the beach and then looked at during quiet moments in a Jakaranda-shaded garden.

You can take Die See out of Pretoria, but you can’t take Pretoria out of Die See.

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RESPONSES (16)
  1. Isolation says:

    Ja Ok! Are you critiquing my review or the band’s album? Not quite sure what you are saying here. So only first language Afrikaans speakers can give a fair critique of Die See because they are Afrikaans? Only Afrikaners would realise that the lyrics are not up to scratch? Did you ever consider that it might just be your opinion and nothing more symbolic than that? I know a ton of first language Afrikaaners that love the band and the album. Oh and the lyrics are goddam beautiful. For anyone reading this review I would suggest you get a second opinion or go buy some angsty Belville crap, whichever blows your hair back.

    Lloyd Gedye

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  2. mega-douche says:

    if that’s a nominated album cover, and ends up winning, then the state of album art design is dire.

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  3. bce says:

    naaice

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  4. Andy says:

    but they used glitter and tinfoil and everything!

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  5. ffffff says:

    good intentions, bad music journalism

    incoherent review; I have a headache now and I still know nothing about Die See’s music.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Wat is Nadine se musiekgroep se naam?

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Die kritiek van Die See is ‘n deurmekaar gebrabbel. Al wat ‘n mens kan wys word daaruit is dat jy die lirieke en die musiek glad nie verstaan nie. Luister weer ‘n slaggie baie mooi daarna.

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  8. P.O. Epies says:

    The essence of journalism is clear, crisp writing in uncomplicated language. Nadine Theron fails spectacularly in this review.

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  9. Naaiers says:

    Fucken haters. I thought it was beautiful. Poncy twats.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    @ P. O. Epies

    What the fuck are you talking about?

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  11. Meerkat says:

    Lloyd Gedye, thanks for supporting and appreciating such excellent lyrics and music – so much needed in Afrikaans music after al the ‘doef-doef” we get bombarded with every day. There are MANY Afrikaans supporters in Pretoria for Die See, Nadine! Did you do a proper survey on the number of fans in different places? (‘…fans are mostly un-Pretorian??’)

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Is Nadine a virgin? Can’t wait to read the sex book!

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  13. two minute poodles says:

    ^ @this here anonymous commenter: um, what the fucking fuck?

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  14. P.O. Epies says:

    @ “WTF” Anonymous:
    Obviously not about something that the mentally challenged will be able to understand. Let me try again.
    Nadine she write about Die See. Nadine she not write easy. Nadine she write long words. Nadine she write like mud. Nadine she not know what she write. Nadine she not know Die See. Nadine she not pass test of writing.

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  15. Anon says:

    “You can take Die See out of Pretoria, but you can’t take Pretoria out of Die See.” – This was your first thought when you sat down to write this, wasn’t it?

    The entire article attempts its own brand of poetry but fails largely because it’s too busy talking about Moleskines, mumbling old men and what the sea means to Pretoria’s Afrikaners.

    What I’d love to know is what they think of Die See.

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  16. Jaco says:

    I bought this album and it sounds great and looks good, I usually hate afrikaans music, but this album is so different and dark I really like it.

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