This is a bit of a transition for me. It’s sort of a record review, or records review as it is more about the band and their full catalogue than just their new album. Let’s face it, most new music is shit. I don’t mean that as one of those, hiding in my teenage years clinging to the music of my youth like a well sucked comfort blanket but more in terms of where on earth can anything go anymore without sounding like a bad pastiche of something that came before? Two things create a new musical genre, new technology or a new cultural movement although with culture it can be hard to tell which came first sometimes.
I think the blah nature of pretty much all I hear see and experience now really gets me down, shitty execution, regurgitated ideas, tedious repetitive dross. I tend to avoid the bulk of modern culture for that very reason. I hasten to add that I do keep tabs enough not to be out of touch but not enough to get sucked in by anything as ghastly as being “down with the kids” or anything that sad.
I first heard of Die Antwoord (Afrikaans for “the answer”) whilst watching the film chappie by south African director Neil Blomkamp, I’ve always been a fan of the way Blomkamp masks social commentary in what seems on the surface to be throwaway crap, not done since paul veerhoven in the eighties and early nineties. The band die antwoord appear in chappie as failed future versions on themselves. I was particularly taken with the graffiti that adorned the set of the film and tracked it down to a combination of the work of band member ninja and South African photographer and artist Roger ballen. The style had a similar quality of childlike but with a dark and malevolent edge that mine does and led me to start researching into them and I loved what I found. Yoladi visser and Watkin Tudor Jones (ninja) had developed there look and sound in a complete cultural bubble full of obscure samples and references, often choosing a sound that is intentionally dated just to annoy people. What really fascinates me though is the way they have created something that is cleverly non clever, the world “willful” springs to mind particularly as they have had a wonderful history of committing financial suicide on a regular basis, putting whole albums out for free download after briefly signing up to major labels and biting any hand that attempts to feed them. I must admit that I totally understand this as whenever I realise that anyone is taking interest in what I do for the wrong reasons I tend to go out of my way to annoy them and send them scurrying back to their own safe preconceptions.
The thing that I love about Die Antwoord is their bumble bee quality, bumble bees have big fat hairy bodies and tiny little wings, they are an aerodynamic impossiblity, they should not work and yet there they go, buzzing around the flowers wilfully denying the laws of physics. Die Antwoord, grate, they annoy, the more weird and ugly they look, the more beautiful they are. They have now managed to do something that I have wanted all my life, to be turned into action figures and by illustrator/toy designer Ashley Wood and 3a, makers of the most beautifully crafted toys no less.
I’ve been sitting listening to their latest album, mount ninji and da nice time kid, whilst doing my Photoshopping, the job I really hate being tethered to a desk for hours on end, and have found it endlessly fascinating. Awful, nineties rave sounds mixed with what sounds like something from the Victorian music halls, meandering breaks in sounds to go and discuss with a resolutely out and proud gay God about the gayness of a rap lyric, sweary children, aphex twin and Toni Basil references. It should not work. But it does.