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Narcoleptic Blues

Narcoleptic Blues

by Roger Young, images by Peter Reyneke / 29.06.2010

After about three songs into Machineri’s set a short Arabic looking dude (because “dude” was the only word for him) steps on stage wearing an American flag as a scarf and congratulates us for being a great host country. Sannie stands back sorta incredulous and lets him carry on. The soccer has invaded everything and the crowd at Zula tonight was mostly here for the Ghana win, except of course for the rock n roll boys in the corner with their styled and girly hair. So, anyway it’s a bit weird in front of the stage and the hypnotic simplicity of Machineri’s blues seems, once again, lost on a large section of the crowd who wander away before the cyclical riffs can draw them in.

Machineri’s is a stripped down narcoleptic urging blues, it’s considered and it’s visceral. If you surrender to it’s meditative strains it impacts in the gut; but you have to allow yourself to feel rather than to think about it. Andre’s guitar swings from a bass-like chugging to a psychedelic upward spiral and the drums roll through like a slave train while Sannie stands behind the microphone calmly glancing around the room with her sly Cheshire Cat confidence, rocking side to side with her strat. They have no need for a bass guitar.

Sannie is like a blues muezzin, her rolling soulful drone at once self involved and open hearted. Andre hides behind his hair and five-day beard looking genuinely unkempt from neglect, focusing on the quick changeovers; plucking the high swirling notes to the driving rhythms, like all he knows is this guitar and this music. There is something internal, painful and strangely joyous about their playing; Sannie, her eyes mostly closed, occasionally looking up at the crowd, almost wondering what they’re doing there while she releases her hurt specifically for them, piercing individuals with her eyes. It’s this internal-ness that loses some people; near the end of the set the crowd has thinned considerably, except for those that are deeply into it down front.

Then she puts down her guitar and for one glorious moment jumps around the stage smiling like a child, belting out her soul, Andre clearing the hair from his eyes finally releasing himself, it’s the same grinding blues but it’s now cathartic and inviting and the change in the audience is palpable. I’m thinking, I wish it could all be like this, but when the song finishes and they play their final track, Sannie with her guitar back, you realise that it’s the building up that allows the release. Machineri demand a kind of woozy head bobbing attention, in a scene that may not be able to provide it.

All images © Peter Reyneke.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Dope show.

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  2. Isolation says:

    Hear a lot about this band, can’t wait to see them live – When are they going to make it to JHB?

    In fact when is any Cape Town band worth anything gonna make it to JHB?

    Stop Jumping up and down Dirty Skirts, I said “worth anything”

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  3. stirrer says:

    Some more model music to keep Catwalk Trash and Donny Truter company. Cape Town’s Pretty Committee welcomes you.

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  4. oh whatevs says:

    sannie wasn’t a model, she was too busy being a drug addict. i was there.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    awsome show u guys were amazing,,,very very soulful

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  6. jake says:

    damn, these guys can really play!!!incredible stuff!!!

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  7. the village idiot says:

    This persistent “feel vs think” guide to musical consumption is becoming quite tedious, Mr Young. Time to find a more articulate way to differentiate between the mindsets that you feel will serve listeners the best.

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  8. Roger Young says:

    Oh god, the parameters have changed again. Shit, that’s the problem with this music stuff, it’s constantly re-inventing itself, like the wheel. Better find a new way to describe it because it’s obviously now COMPLETELY different.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like Roger was feeling Sannie with his eyes

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  10. Dave says:

    Their music is extraordinary and I cant wait to see them again. And again and again and again. Incredible show guys, thank you for the music. You guys seriously fucking rock man.

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  11. Anonymous says:


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  12. Boni says:

    Whatever all you haters, machineri is the freshest act to come out of this town if not country in quite some time. Why? Because they possess their music like real musicians, play their fingers bloody because it’s a translation of passion and talent, rather than contriving authenticity through crimson stains on the fender.

    Stirrer – if they weren’t attractive, would you feel better about it? Comparing Sannie and Andre to the likes of Donny Truter and Ellenie Eloff must mean you have never spent much time with the two. Truter and Eloff might need to substitute feathering talent with cutting jawlines, but this is not the case for machineri. No question.

    Oh whatevs – this whole town is festering with alcoholics and drug addicts, yet most of us think because we hold 9 to 5’s, it’s a social thing. Sannie’s awesome and her past has absolutely nothing to do with her music – if anything, she can communicate feeling through her music that reads a thousand times more authentic than any early 20’s gun-tattooed collarbone ever will.

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  13. oh whatevs says:

    it actually wasn’t meant as a cheap shot criticism. not in a way of “drugs are cool” or anything stupid like that, just meant she’s not a carefully cultivated grunge barbie.

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  14. Yawn says:

    Oh my. Young Roger, I think you did your very best with what that show gave us… not very much at all. There is absolutely nothing new or fresh or in anyway interesting about this band. And to be honest if I had to write an article about them myself I would have taken the same approach. Wouldn’t want to stand on any of these kids toes. No thank you. Yawn.

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  15. how now says:

    how come no mentioned of the other band who performed on the night?

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