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things that go bump in the night

Things that go Bump in the Night

by Sheetal Magan / 04.09.2009

It was with the feverish anxiety of someone in an unnecessary accident that I made my way to Newtown to check out the BLK JKS perform at the Bassline.

I have definitely had numerable encounters with Jozi’s excess but I can’t say that I have ever started a night out on the town with a stop off at the police station. But Wednesday night was precisely that kind of night, with a graphic reminder of why I have made a point of avoiding 7th street in Melville for the past two years. It has regressed from its former ‘Mecca for the alternative’ status into cesspool for degenerate student self indulgence where drag racing down what should clearly be a pedestrian road in the late afternoon has become the norm. The busted lip on the front of my station wagon might be a useful daily reminder of this fact, but while I usually dismiss the nicks and bumps from a night a out with a casual – ‘ Dit Gee meer karakter’ – this half-wit had managed to make my lady ugly, and I was not impressed.

What exactly a music conference is, I can’t be sure, but apparently that’s where I was headed only to find it quite packed, although I had admittedly not even heard that it was happening till I was asked to go. The overall vibe was fairly chilled, with most of the crowd attentively contemplating the showcase of jazz until the BLK JKS took the stage and the energy became progressively up-tempo.

The BLK JKS have a strong stage presence, what with their no non-sense afro-chic sense of style style, self assured interaction with the audience and improvisation that comes so easily. Their music was surprisingly reminiscent of several influences from Psychedelic Rock to Radiohead, and yet there is nothing derivative about their sound and the overall blend has something both innovative, intuitive and authentic going on. People certainly seemed familiar with their music, which is surprising if you consider that their first full-length album, After the Robots has only just been released. I was however, reminded by a good friend and BLK JKS enthusiast, that they struggled to achieve any recognition in South Africa until they received it overseas. Hmmm, yes, but all the politics of SA Music aside, they definitely won my vote for the centre stage and a full house.

They certainly seemed to have the both the whities and the darkies jiving with enthusiasm, which was at times worse than it sounded, but it was good to see, and not in the optimistic candy coated rainbow nation sense so much as seeing a variety of people with an appreciation for good rock music. In the end, I do think that there is something pretentious about the Jazz scene in Newtown, when people flock to see the BLK JKS and yet don’t recognize a rendition of ‘Mannenburg’ performed by the New Yorkers.

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RESPONSES (25)
  1. TIT FACE says:

    Correction the album is called AFTER ROBOTS. Were you even there? What about Kwani Experience ? they were on it! If your going to write something so unenthusiastically then dont write it all… and whats up with the closing statement?

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  2. Roger Young says:

    TIT FACE, please take this to heart. If you can do better please submit and we will replace this story with yours.

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  3. Mandla says:

    Nothing wrong with this review.

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  4. TIT FACE says:

    Its not my job to write other peoples stories for them. But seriously if you cant even get the BLK JKS album name right. Then completely leaving out Kwani Experience… who had a exceptional set, the rare performance by Bakithi Khumalo, the iconic bassist who is based in New York who played on the legendary Graceland album with Paul Simon… and then you go and call the Jazz scene in Newtown pretentious because they enjoy alternative music at a Moshito music conference. It clearly points out that this review is complete rubbish and should probably be removed from this site as it does not represent what happened at the opening night of the conference at all.

    Most of the review talks about Melville and the writers car… who cares! I love this site but crap like this should just not be published online. Mandla you were obviously not there either or did not pay attention and probably just backing up your mate who wrote it.

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  5. Roger Young says:

    “it does not represent what happened at the opening night of the conference at all.” I think you are mistaken, esp seen as it represents perfectly what happened to the writer on the night in that “Most of the review talks about Melville and the writers car” .

    Look we sent in a new writer, and every writer should be allowed to make their mistakes in public, it’s how they learn, you are teaching them right now, so that’s good. No need to be so godamn virulent about it though, it’s not like you pay for the content on this site. Remember it’s just a bunch of us trying to cover culture, music, reality as best we can. And seriously, thanks for coming along for the ride, the fact that you “love this site” makes us want to get better, I hope you understand what we’re trying to do and realise that the only way we keep getting better is by bringing on new blood.

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  6. Doctor L. says:

    Really dig the Blk Jks.

    A lot of people seem to ‘passionately hate’ the writing on this site.

    Would like to see more Hip Hop content. How about K’Naan at Carfax tomorrow?

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  7. Roger Young says:

    Doctor L. It’s funny this, but it seems that it is tough to get people to write about hip hop who are into it. I wish we could find one writer who could show hip hop some love for the sake of the readers.

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  8. djf says:

    Yeah – and provide us with some firm recommendations rather than lingo-ridden rhetoric.

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  9. Doctor L. says:

    Maybe you should see about getting this guy:

    http://www.speakerbox.co.za/content/review.aspx?cat=Urban&id=268

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  10. djf says:

    Dr L, I read that review and I have two concerns. Firstly, I’m inherently suspicious of “reviews” being posted that read more like promotional blurb from record labels and management than more neutral and incisive journalism. The word “critical” implies placing the subject in more balanced relief, even if you look upon the album favourably. Secondly, why are there four dudes in an outfit called “Driemanskap”?

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  11. TIT FACE says:

    Just remember to check the new blood for any viruses…

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  12. Roger Young says:

    Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it, even though I know I have to spat out some hyperbole in a desperate attempt to explain how much i like something but that bit if writing made little sense to me. I urge everyone to go to that link and tell me what “putting a razor to the rhyme and exploding it in a frenzy of unmistakeably unapologetic Kasi ferocity” sounds like, lyrically or musically.

    Also I would like to point out to any future commentators on this thread that just because we are going off on a tangent here does not mean that this is irrelevant.

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  13. Doctor L. says:

    Hmm.

    I see what you mean. Writers tend to get ‘carried away’ with stuff they like, I guess, placing a focus on transferring sentiments such as excitement over reaching a ‘sound’ conclusion from critical reasoning.

    An example: Andy Davis writes very well, using a lot of ‘superlatives’, when reviewing District 9. I am sure, with hindsight, he’ll know it wasn’t ‘that good’, but that it was ‘good’. I think the writer of the linked article will reach the same conclusion.

    They are called Driemanskap because the group was formed by three members. When the fourth member joined, the name was already ‘established’ as a ‘brand’. At some point, they must have decided “fuck it” and decided to embark on a career as a misnomer.

    (I may be leaving out some details)

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  14. djf says:

    Well, they could always amend their name to something like “Driemanskap feat MC Skratchmyass”. Perhaps that would be better than smartypants audiences calling them “Dofmanskap” on the premise that they couldn’t count.

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  15. Roger Young says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again D9 = “The Fly”‘s special effects x “Starship Troopers” type allegory + Night Rider – laugh track

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  16. Doctor L. says:

    @djf ha ha ha.

    @Roger Young

    Funny and concise. I feel tempted to replace your “Starship Troopers” with “Battlefield Earth”, though.

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  17. julius says:

    Why is a proud group of black men using the language of the oppresser to name themself? They could use the isiXhosa word for any three-legged animal and the illitirate white man would not be able to critisize.

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  18. bubba Hotep says:

    getting back to the muzak you preening little webheads…i just DL ‘After Robots’ (fuck Musica) and found it noodly and tentative mostly – like a minor league afro jazz band stuck in the crisscrossing neural pathways of Roger ‘I’m very very rich and about as hip as Chris de Burgh’ Waters. Maybe it’ll grow on me…

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  19. Doctor L. says:

    bubba, can you provide a link?

    I’ll buy Linda a beer when I see him.

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  20. bubba Hotep says:

    sure doc, the torrent is on http://www.mininova.org – just type in blk jks.

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  21. Liam Lynch says:

    Roger, I hear you, and agree in part… but T.Face’s virulence aside, the review is poor. It could have been written without even being there; at times it reads as if it was.

    And yes, Kwani were amazing.

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  22. concerned says:

    i don’t think the review is bad. i think considering she is a new writer and probably hasn’t written much in the past, she could do with a good editor. Roger, maybe you could have made grammatical and spelling corrections as well as given her some guidance on how to write a music review? I think she has promise but needs guidance. Tit Face (very apt name), how about some constructive criticism instead of this revolting antagonism.

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  23. Roger Young says:

    A lot of the blame must be on us, as concerned points out. We rushed this piece out in error, I sent it to be edited but in the haste of the day uploaded the unedited version. We will try harder next time. Hopefully Sheetal with forgive us and write again for us soon.

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  24. Doctor L. says:

    Just listened to the Blk Jks album.

    Possibly the best thing I have heard/will hear this year.

    ‘Words elude me’, I guess.

    Listening to the Ater Robots left me experiencing a feeling similar to one I had experienced at the National Arts Festival after watching a play titlted ‘Untitled’ in which the narrative is disjointed and the characters are made to speak to the audience in different languages.

    I had drank too much beer but I felt embarrased and couldn’t leave the theater to urinate. I didn’t want to seem inattentive or impervious to art and I was very self-conscious about the noise of the wooden floor creaking beneath my weight; the train of upraised knees I would have to brush against on my journey to relief.

    I focused on ‘Untitled’, subduing the impulse to urinate and after a while, when the throb began to calm and cool down, i discovered that, for the longest time, the characters had been improvising with my thoughts and that my agitated bladder had now taken the part of a very bloated, cruel and unattracive leading man.

    It was surreal.

    Like this album.

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