1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Warrick Sony”

Durban Poison – Trans Sky

Killing Time - Trans Sky

Killing Time – Trans Sky

Trans Sky consisted of Kalahari Surfer’s Warrick Sony and Urban Creep’s Brendan Jury. They would come together for 1 album (‘Killing Time’) and 1 single (‘Slow Thighs’) and would not sound much like either the Kalahari Surfers or Urban Creep. With a title like ‘Durban Poison’, one would be forgiven for expecting a stoner kind of track as the phrase is used to refer to a particular strain of marijuana.
But the song and the lyrics are far from the drug. Instead, the lyrics use ‘Durban poison’ to describe the toxicity of modern society. The first verse refers to a suburban woman seeing her children ‘grow up in Durban Poison’. It seems to challenge the ‘American Dream’ lifestyle that we are promised, reminding us of the struggles, we all face.
Musically, the song kicks off sounding like something off Primal Scream’s ‘Screamadelica’ with its syncopated rhythms and beats. However, within seconds Jury’s viola injects the track with a kind of desolate melancholy as it cries like a mournful bird circling in the sky. The vocals are gothic laden, at times reminiscent of Bauhaus’ Pete Murphy, at other times akin to The Awakening’s Ashton Nyte.
Overall there is a dark and dense feel to the track. The thudding beat feels like someone trudging through a thick undergrowth in a humidity drenched climate. It is a far cry from the sun, sea and surf that Durbs is usually associated with. It makes the sometimes asked question, ‘What’s your poison?’ take on a strange new slant.

Where to find it:
Killing Time – Trans Sky, (1998), Tic Tic Bang, BANGCD039

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1999 – Kalahari Surfers

Russian Lyrics to '1999' - Kalahari Surfers

Russian Lyrics to ‘1999’ – Kalahari Surfers

In South Africa we had 1999 in 1971 and then again in 1986 and finally in 1999. How you may ask. Well, Freedom’s Children recorded a song called ‘1999’ which appeared on their 1971 album ‘Galactic Vibes’. This was the inspiration for the Kalahari Surfer’s 1986 release of their song called ‘1999’. And finally in 1999, we had the year 1999.

The Freedom’s Children song asked the question, ‘In 1999 will you still be mine?’ and did so in a dense, heavy rock fog. The Surfers were less concerned with matters of the heart as in their song they wanted to know, ‘In 1999 will we still around’ and they did this in a rather loose, somewhat punk-ish way. The vocals have a strange menacing feel to them while the music is somewhat avant garde with a down and dirty production that keeps the song raw and edgy. Lovers of guitar music will enjoy the instrumental break about three quarters of the way into the track where the guitar is set loose for a work out.

The album that ‘1999’ appeared on called ‘Living In The Heart Of The Beast’ manged to get noticed in the UK and was favourably reviewed in some of the music press there, however this did not translate into commercial success.

The year 1999 has come and gone and the Kalahari Surfers are still around, so we have the answer to the question they posed back in ’86, but that is no excuse to ignore the song. It is still as brilliant a rough gem now as it was back then.

Where to find it:
Living In The Heart Of The Beast -Kalahari Surfers (1986), Recommended Records


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Prayer For Civilization – Kalahari Surfers

Prayer For Civilization – Kalahari Surfers

A Naartjie In Our Sosatie

A Naartjie In Our Sosatie

How, one may ask, can we pray for civilization if it is difficult to find any to pray for? Then again, the title of this Kalahari Surfer’s song may just be a prayer for people to start being civil to each other. Given that the track appeared on the ‘A Naartjie In Our Sosatie’ album which was first released on Shifty Records in 1985 when the country was in upheaval, I would suggest that even if the latter was not what the Surfers had in mind, it certainly would be appropriate.

Warrick Sony and his band throw together a mish mash of sounds and samples into what at times seems more of an aural collage than a song. It is not an easy song to listen to with sounds sticking out at different angles. Jazzy saxaphones fight with a stuttering, stumbling beat while a preacher prays for the safe return of armed forces. A coughing guitar splutters and a weird operatic lady (the fat one?) sings a strange, almost strangled wail.

This is modern art music where the artist attacks the canvas with forms and lines and blobs and splashes to create a mood, a feeling of what they are trying to portray. Samples and slogans are thrown into the mix to get the message across. ‘Prayer For Civilization’ was an ambitious song and would not have sat easily on any turntable. It needs to be experienced rather than listened to.

Where to find it:
A Naartjie In Our Sosatie – Various (1999), Cutting Grooves Records, CGCD001



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