Sherlock Na Dansby Max Barashenkov / 09.09.2010
Pipe smoke hangs in the air, two men sit half-drowned into plush armchairs, the needle of the record player is softly scratching its way through Foto Na Dans’ Die Vloed.
“By God, Watson, this is shit.”
“No, Holmes, my dear friend, this is Afrikaans.”
They close their mouths, ingesting the statement. Sherlock Holmes cocks his ear, taps out his ivory pipe, fills it up, lights it, exhales purplish clouds and rises to the debate.
“But this chap, Le-Roi, his delivery is so dry, so monotone, his vocal chords must be under-developed for he strains like a child in the choruses, won’t you say?”
“You are too cynical, Holmes, the drink has dulled your senses. The vocals might be of a lower quality, but can you not appreciate the morose tranquility they evoke? Can you not take delight in the, at first, disconcerting symbiosis of the chopped-with-an-axe language and the tone, a combination that results in something ethereal, almost majestic?”
“You do have a point, good Doctor, this music will serve well as accompaniment in my opium den, I will recommend it to Mr. Lin, the proprietor. But what say you of the lyrical content? It strikes me as unchallenged.”
“Indeed, though my grasp of the language is rudimentary, the imagery employed is rather simplistic, the metaphors are paper-thin, I’ve heard them all before somewhere, perhaps from the lips of a traveling gypsy bard? But there is a certain appeal in words untroubled by artisan pretense, a sense of uncut honesty. Whoever penned those lyrics wrote from the heart, it seems.”
The Doctor rises from his armchair, limps over to the cabinet and pours out two generous glasses of port. Sherlock receives his drink absentmindedly, his eyes reduced to slits as his neurons churn and dissect the music.
“You know, Watson, I am not convinced. I am not convinced by this honesty you allude to – this record reeks of commercial success, it was bred for it. And you know how I feel about commerce, Watson.”
“Yes, yes, Holmes, ‘commerce has no place in the arts’, I’ve heard it too many times.”
“Precisely! How can we know what guided these men down the road to crafting this record? How do we know they were not driven by the sole desire to cash in? Consider this, my dear Watson – this collective is clearly riding a watered-down nationalist wave, a movement that is hinged more on language than music. They wear it on their sleeves, a badge of Afrikaans honour, look at the closing track, a pathetic manifesto with equally pathetic words, but to the Afrikaans crowd, it will be an anthem, mark my words.”
“You see a conspiracy everywhere you look, Holmes. Has it crossed your drug-addled mind that these boys are simply doing what they love? In their mother tongue? Holmes, take note of the electronic arrangements, listen to those keyboard…”
“You are right, the synth end of the production is magnificent, spell-binding almost. Lush, yet catchy, intelligent, yet not too taxing on the ear. I applaud them on it, and, if I had my way, they would drop the limp rock element of it all and stick to making electro-pop, then they will be unstoppable. But now, it leaves me unmoved, it leaves me rather bored, Watson, that is the ultimate problem – I am bored by it.”
“Holmes, not all music is meant to grip you by the throat, different people have different needs and wants. This record fills a certain void, answers certain questions to an audience that you and I cannot begin to understand. Holmes? Holmes…?”
But Sherlock Holmes had already closed his eyes and drifted off to a slumber.