It’s Alive!by Thomas Okes / 09.12.2009
I’ve always wondered about Oorlog Frankenstein; when I first heard the name I somehow imagined a tribe of bloodied zombies attacking each other in a retro, stop-motion, drum ’n bass arrangement of generic uncoolness. I might have finally ‘got it’ on Saturday night, or might not; I may also have lost my mind.
Peach van Pletzen is a far more powerful animal on stage than Errors of Enthusiasm might suggest; where his album is all interesting soundscapes, ambient murmurings and runaway atmospheres, here he’s a more thumping kind of thunder, capable of jerking your body around within a pounding web of sparkling, synthesised strings. When a girl in front of me started spring-stepping in jagged circles, her elbows and knees at odds in a Bjorkian stick-figure, retarded-swan effect, I realised that it works: it seems as though her body is being pulled into positions of oddly perfect imbalance by the lightning forks of sound around it. My own limbs were under similar attack, my arms marionetting, my eyes rolling blind and my chest convulsing like I’m being shocked to life. When Peach is in control, we are all Frankensteins, our bodies charged by an electric sky and our minds stupefied into afterthinking attachments.
In that moment, a deranged devil in a filthy panda suit enters the room, and all of these transported bodies go straight to war. The video for Dans Dans Dans gives a clue as to what exactly is going on here, as does Francois van Coke’s corresponding dramatic rendition: while a soaked mongrel shake itself repeatedly in a manipulated back-and-forth movement of distaste, desperation and distress, Francois wraps the microphone cord around his neck, squats on all fours and shudders violently until his saliva begins to pool on the floor. Then he jumps up, rears back and unfurls a fitful series of distorted, disjointed howls – many of the lyrics may be lost, made unclear in the maze of Peach’s swirling static, but their anxiety is plain, on-point and perfect. Of the whole four-song set, the heightened trauma of one moment is particularly palpable, as the tormented panda/dog screeches in mid-seizure, “te wees of nie te wees, dit is die vraag”.
There’s more to this puzzle of a collaboration than meets the lazy eye; more, certainly, than “ek wil fokken dans” and a penis walking around on two legs. The Oorlog EP itself looks to be wrapped in the cunning cottonwool of cleverness, and although it’ll take some careful dissection to uncover its rewards, after a show like this one, I have incentive in spades. And until this little USB needle properly redirects my synapses and my body starts to shake itself like a dirty wet dog, I’m happy just to feel my heart jolted alive, over and over, in the ratcheting rhythm of rewind and repeat.
Images © and courtesy Thomas Okes.