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Foto Na Dans - Die Vloed

Sherlock Na Dans

by 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.

Foto Na Dans - Die Vloed

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RESPONSES (38)
  1. Romi says:

    By God, Watson, this is shit.”
    “No, Holmes, my dear friend, this is Afrikaans.”

    Haha.
    Brilliant device there my friend.

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  2. large S says:

    Afrikaans + Muse + Naïvité = FND

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  3. damndemons says:

    foto na kak blow harder than any of the afri-pop bands

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  4. Jonny Luck says:

    Max, my friend. =D
    This is truelly sublime.
    A best from you.

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  5. josh says:

    i think this is the best review you’ve written for mahala. My favourite at least.

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  6. Romi says:

    Josh- I agree.
    This is intelligent writing, not just clever writing.
    🙂

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  7. Remix says:

    This made my day, seriously genius.

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  8. Sean says:

    hahah awesome!

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  9. blown away says:

    im ready to hand out, blow out, suck some serious cock out…BRILLIANT…fucking brilliant

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  10. joburg tom says:

    great. indeed the mentality of cetain youths and groups. awe!

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  11. afirkaans kid says:

    you hit the nail on the head, brilliantly.

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  12. Tomas says:

    Cheers

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  13. Anonymous says:

    What a piece of crap review!
    Smarmy and narcissistic.
    Why don’t you just give up on being a journalist and just start writing fiction?
    It’s clearly where your strengths lie.

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  14. julius says:

    i came, i saw, i concurred

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  15. Anti-Anonymous says:

    Pah, this struck a chord within me.

    Well done Sir, I tip my hat to you.

    The subtlety within this piece of work is of epic proportion.

    Hoorah!

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  16. muerte says:

    epic subtlety…? douchebag

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  17. fineyoungcannibal says:

    This is absolutely brilliant.
    Max – if only there were more of your kind in our music industry.

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  18. killer says:

    Foto Na Dans have one of the best stage presence’s in the country…. Way up there with fokof, these guys KNOW how to rock!!

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  19. Rook says:

    jislaaik check at all the acolytes lining up to suck on a Russian… it was a good piece, but should these comment boards really be used for such wanton and vainglorious puffery? Max will get a big head. Surely if you’re going to say something positive, at least give us a bit more substance than a whole bunch of hoorahs! Save it for his facebook profile. And give us something to wrap our brains around, and argue about for fucksake!

    The Foto Na Dans fans don’t seem up for the fight. That’s pretty symptomatic of the band, if you ask me.

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  20. Max says:

    While I appreciate all the kind words, I have to agree with Rook.

    does anyone feel that a lot of afrikaans bands are popular not because of their music, but because they are afrikaans?

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Afrikaans bands generally sound the same and suck ass while doing it

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  22. Tim says:

    Id like to thank Max for coming back with the line he did… you see for a second there it just seemed like everyone was sucking him off, felt a bit like everyone on here was his friend. The article is good, but I wouldn’t frontload Max just for writing it… well maybe if he climbed into my car on shrooms I might.

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  23. Devil's advocate says:

    Okay, no doubt this is a beautifully written piece, but I have to come up for these boys.

    Their first demo EP was shit and their first full length was catchy at times but most songs were average. “Pantomime op Herwinbare Klanke” was brilliant, full stop. i dare anyone to listen twice to “Dowwe Blou Beleid” with a good set of headphones and tell me otherwise. I can not believe that album didn’t receive more recognition from the English community. I’ve listened to the latest album just a bit, sounds great so far, a few misses but also a few songs that make me feel very proud to be South African.

    Yes, it is true that a lot of Afrikaners have this irrational sense that they are threatened, many Afrikaners feel like they need a posterchild, someone to be their saviour (Fokofpoliekar, Jack Parow, Steve Hofmeyer), while English folk seem to be more objective in their support.

    But the Mahala legion seem to be very proudly South African, we support our sports teams, win or lose. Why not the same with the arts (to an extent, of course). Yes, Afrikaans journos comparing FND to Muse is ridiculous but I honestly feel they are one of the best in their genre and something to be proud of.

    I agree with the “commerce in arts” bit but the fact is our market is not as big as UK or USA, the likes of Arcade Fire and Radiohead do not have to be concerned with commerce because if they are good enough and reach 1% of their market they will be sustainable. But South Africa is small, people need to make sacrifices. Not that I think FND are massive sell-outs, but at least they sing in their mother-tongue, which is inherently more honest. Nude Girls and aKing are national heroes but they chose a different fucking LANGUAGE in order to sell more records, how is that not 100 times worse than any commercialism FND can be accused of? Not even Lark, one of our best bands in recent memory, was sustainable.

    Yes, MK has an absurd amount of shit on it and FND do not deserve too much praise for being arguably the best Afrikaans progressive rock band, but they do deserve recognition for being one of the better SA rock bands and English folk who call themselves fans of SA music should give them a proper listen before slating them as yet another overrated, average Afrikaans band.

    I love the Mahala community and will continue reading and supporting, but the anti-Afrikaner sentiment is getting old. Mahala prides itself on being non-racist, forward thinking, pro-New SA and all that. How about we stop the bias toward Afrikaners here. I am not referring, of course, to the writer of this article or any specific commentator. I am just frustrated that even a band like FND, who really try to put up a professional show, who try things their peers don’t, who had the balls to make a fucking self-deprecating mockumentary – something we have barely seen on SA tv, let alone from a band, surely it deserves some credit for outside the box thinking and not taking themselves too seriously?

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  24. Anonymous says:

    mahalas position on afrikaans probably only stems from a frustration that, to an extent, the afrikaans ‘rock’ crews forsake talent in the face of association, and speaking in afrikaans seems to blur the edges and make it an easier pill to swallow for the masses. It’s another facet of our flawed music industry where ‘politics’ have dirtied up the music, something Mahala (or Max) seems to be trying to drive home.

    And lets not use the example of the Nude Girls (who, when listening back, were one of the few uniquely SOUTH AFRICAN SOUNDING rock bands. They got bits of that right that bands still struggle with today) and aKING singing in English for a bigger market, when album sales dictate the well known fact that in SA Afrikaans sells. Way more than English.

    Biggest selling album in SA history, to my knowledge, is ‘Panic Mechanic’ or something by ou Leon.

    Afrikaans bands in SA have a double edged catch 22. They know they have put a cap on their potential market, by targeting afrikaans listeners, but at the same time, if they’re going to be in this pond they may as well be the big fish. Our scene has a glass ceiling, and theirs is quite clear, but they make sure they maximise it.

    It’s hardly original. Convert 85% of that directly, with an English vocalist, and you’ll have 85% of the same old crap we’ve been hearing for years. It’s only ‘distinguishing’ factor is the language. And yet still completely dominates the industry.

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  25. Max says:

    Devil’s advocate – good god man, however retarded this sounds – I love afrikaans people and the afrikaans history. the ‘anti-afrikaans’ sentiment was completely read into it by you. it’s anti-fotonadans, not anti-afrikaans. gah.

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  26. Max says:

    But thank you for the response. You raise very valid points about the sustainability of South African bands. I concur.

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  27. Devil's advocate says:

    Anonymous: As a connoisseur of good music, I urge you to pay the R7 and download “Dowwe Blou Beleid” off the Pantomime album and listen to the full song. Unless, of course, you do not enjoy melodic synth rock at all. Please tell me if you honestly think that is “the same old crap we’ve been hearing for years”.

    Yes, as an Afrikaner I am embarrassed on a daily basis of all the braindead music out there, so when a good band does come along it warms my heart a little bit, I must admit. But the fact that everyone in Loftus Versfelt bought a Leon Schuster album is irrelevant to a discussion about a young rock band. Taking Panic Mechanic into account in a conversation on Foto Na Dans is an unfair generalization.

    I don’t think singing in Afrikaans is necessarily a commercial ploy. Yes those Klein Karoo Kunstefees pop stars make big money, but when it comes to rock bands, it isn’t the case. I heard from a reliable source that Fokofpolisiekar, at the massive height of their fame and success, were pulling mere R10 000 monthly salaries. Not exactly the rock star lifestyle.

    And I completely agree on Nudies being a uniquely South Aafrican-sounding band and have endless respect for them.

    Max, I apologise, I certainly wasn’t having a go at you or accusing you of anything, sorry if it came across as that. It is perhaps unfair for me to start an argument that is based on a trend that I have witnessed on Mahala over a period of time (readers and commentators more than the actual writers) on your article. But I can not deny that I feel this way, and reading the umpteenth “yeah, afrikaans sucks” user comment on Mahala made me finally say something about it.

    I happen to be a fan of aKing and FND, and although they are very different bands, I consider them relatively equal in talent AND commercialism. I can not understand why the Mahala community and so many English South Africans have warmed to the former and not the latter. And I think it’s not about language because these are often the same people who find Sigur Ros, Manu Chao and Rammstein perfectly palatable.

    But I guess its a matter of opinion.
    Anyway, keep up the good writing.

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  28. Rook says:

    perhaps the reaction is against supporting Afrikaans music as nationalism instead of supporting Afrikaans music because it’s good. Just because something is South African doesn’t mean you should jump on it and rah rah rah… because a lot of the stuff produced in this country is unmitigated sheizen

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  29. Max says:

    Rook – “perhaps the reaction is against supporting Afrikaans music as nationalism instead of supporting Afrikaans music because it’s good.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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  30. Devil's advocate says:

    Yeah, I can’t deny that such a “nationalist” trend exists or that 85% of them are “the same old crap” and get more credit than they deserve, purely because of their language. The problem I’m addressing is the inverse effect that also exists: non-Afrikaners tend to not give the other 15% the credit they deserve and there is sometimes a generalization (which is partly understandable) which inhibits them from giving the likes of FND a fair chance.

    But I am labouring the point. All i wanted to say is that FND, in my opinion, definitily falls into the other 15% QUALITY afrikaans music category and I am surprised and disappointed that their last 2 records have not received more credit from the English community. I honestly feel they deserve it and I suspect that if they were English or sang in English it would have been a lot different (although they also would only have had a fraction of the Afrikaans fans they currently have, I guess).

    Just my opinion, to each his own.

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  31. S. Mart Ass says:

    Anyone who uses the word “Pantomime” in an album title is asking not to be taken seriously.

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  32. Jelly says:

    This has to be the best review I’ve read ANYWHERE

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  33. blah blah blah blah blah says:

    Free advice Max: sometimes trying too hard to be different just makes you ordinary

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  34. Travis M. Bergman says:

    Well played, Maxim. Well played…

    The fact you’re being just slightly dickish is very much overshadowed by the fact that you have style and, of course, by the fact that FotoNaDans is quite average.

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  35. Anonymous says:

    Although the article was well written, they totally miss the mark and are clearly pitching this to the crowd who call Afrikaners ‘dutchmen’. I am a big fan of South African music, owning Zebra & Giraffe, aKing, Nudies, Parlotones, Arapaho (does anyone remember these guys?), amongst other albums and I think this FND album rates up there with the best of those. The problem might be that you really need to blast this album at full volume to appreciate the subtle layers that are often overlooked. You can also listen to the song more than once and get a new sound and meaning from it (If that makes sense at all). In the end I don’t think that by ME telling you about the merits of this album it will change anything in terms of how Afrikaner pride is perceived. It seems to me that a lot of the time the disdain for it comes more from envy and the lack of true national pride from the english speaking community that anything else.

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  36. Wit Afrikaner boer seun who loves to hate God says:

    Hierdie is ‘n extremely clever piece! Baie goed geskryf. Ek rate FND moet die advice volg aan die einde………..

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  37. Meh says:

    Poor review. A lack of understanding the Afrikaans language and people. It’s a beautiful album with great lyrical content and meaning.

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  38. Rudi says:

    I still listen to Die Vloed every now and again. The title track is brilliant. Also – dissing FND just because they’re Afrikaans? Maybe having some pride in your own language and culture is too alien a concept for the notoriously unpatriotic English South African? “Chopped-with-an-axe language” nogal – ja it must take guts to vent your spleen against such a politically convenient target. Let’s hear you say that about any other SA language and we’ll see how long you last.

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