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Fabrics of the Heart

by Dave Durbach / 19.08.2010

Like German reggae or Afrikaans country, music that struggles to keep it real is always easy to bash, usually for good reason. American accents, for example, are nothing new to South African music. And they’re always kak.

But when an act is half American, things change. Sounding American no longer has the same baggage attached when the singer is American. Adjectives like ‘insincere’ or ‘wannabe’ soon get replaced by ‘well travelled’ or ‘global’.

This is definitely the case for Liquideep. The locally based house duo have just launched their much-anticipated debut album, after already being nominated for the SAMA song of the year last year for “Fairytale” and garnering remixes from international house DJs.

Thabo ‘Ryzor’ Shokgolo and Jonathan ‘Ziyon’ Hamilton make up Liquideep. Ryzor handles most of the production – stripped down, downtempo, local house grooves. Over this his American partner delivers slick but generic R&B vocals ala other wildly popular panty-moistening crooners like John Legend.

The production is tasteful – it’s house music minus any doof doof. Be that as it may, this doesn’t mean that the beats aren’t still repetitive – but that’s house music for you. And seeing as though each song is mixed to flow seamlessly into the next, one might say the whole album contains about the amount of originality or skill required for one non-house song. But that would be too harsh. And again – that’s house for you. Interestingly, so locked to this formula are the duo that the only song that attempts anything different – the more heavily R&B incluenced reprise to their old hit Fairtytale – is labeled a ‘bonus’ track.

It’s undeniably ladies’ music, with Ziyon checking every hackneyed love song cliché in the book. And as much as it inspires images of greasy chicks gyrating in slow motion, asses bouncing to the beat, its more likely to appeal to lonely teenage girls in the bedrooms, sulking that their big sister stole their John Legend CD.

Ziyon’s lyrics may be corny as anything (“You Got It Going On”, “Angel”) but the flipside of this is that it’s in English that everyone can understand and latch onto.

If this album were only a few songs long, it wouldn’t be half bad. The way it drags on for no particular reason reeks of a lack of inspiration or a fear of innovation. But songs like “BBM”, “Settle for Less”, “Dream” (with its simple uplifting message) and “Alright” are all so inoffensive and mindless, yet so slick and catchy, that even I could listen to them all day without ever really getting tired of them.

Not unlike Locnville, the final product is designed to appeal to the widest possible market. It’s local, it’s international, it’s real. It’s not too American for people here not to be able to relate. Neither is it too ayoba for everyone else to ignore.

If ever there was such a thing as ‘one size fits all’ music, then this is it.

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