One Party State

by Kalahari Surfers

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about

Long after most of their musical contemporaries from
the 1980s have lapsed into silence or irrelevance,
the Surfers are creating music that is perhaps more
influential now than ever before. The Kalahari
Surfers were the original South African “Dub
Scientists” and their rhythmic and sonic explorations
continue to influence a new generation of electronic
producers because of their fascination with the
possibilities of using the studio as an instrument, and
their investigation of the spatial qualities that can be
suggested through the creative use of the mixing desk
and effects units. But the Surfers are much more
than an exploration of dance rhythms and studio
techniques; their albums are important expressions
of neo-Dadaist South African sound art.
What is not widely recognised is that the Kalahari
Surfers are not a group, underground or otherwise.
The Surfers are an evolving audio project by the
composer, producer and musician, Warrick Sony. In
the early 1980s, when Sony started the Surfers project,
the anonymity offered by a fictional band gave him
the imaginative space to operate during the bleakest
and most repressive years of the apartheid regime.
The mask of a fictional band also allowed Sony to
approach the Kalahari Surfers as a collaborative
endeavour, using his production skills to record and
remix an astonishing range of vocal and instrumental
performances from figures in the South African
underground over the last twenty-eight years. This
latest album includes contributions by the legendary
jazz guitarist Alan Kwela, and a haunting vocal
track by Sarah Jane Mary Hills, better known as the
bassist from the KZN alt-rock group, Sunways. But
it is the collaboration with the South African post-
Fanonist poet, Lesego Rampolokeng that is central
to One Party State. Rampolokeng’s dark, often abject
visions have featured in several Surfers albums.
However this is the most successful collaboration to
date. Instead of treating Rampolokeng as a rap poet,
Sony has approached the recording of his poetry
as a source of raw material, extracting resonant
and cutting phrases from the tsunami of the poet’s
verbal tirades. Like Dambudzo Marechera in postliberation Zimbabwe, Rampolokeng anatomised
the predatory and authoritarian leanings of the new
elite at an early stage in South African democracy;
and his vision is matched by Sony’s highly political
treatment of sound.
Since his first Surfers release, a spray-painted, fourtrack
cassette called "Gross National Products" , produced in an Observatory student commune in 1982, Sony has
treated the Surfers project as a space for experimental
sound design, stitching complex layers of irony and
questioning into the fabric of his compositions
through audio cuts-up and samples over the spatially
conceived Dub rhythms. Rooted in the analogue
tape-splice techniques of early Music Concrete and
sampling from a rich garnering of field recordings
and media excerpts, the Kalahari Surfers’ work
constitutes a Dadaist sound archive as well as a
Science of Dub production. The compositions on
every Surfers album preserve the detritus of South
African popular culture like the bus-tickets and
printed ephemera in a Merz sculpture by Kurt
Schwitters. This practice of treating found audio
was always an inherently political practice in South
Africa under apartheid: a sometimes brutal exposure
of social contradictions or an undercutting of the
bland surface of official propaganda that led to
restrictions on the airplay of Surfers music and,
in the case of the Bigger Than Jesus LP in 1989, a
government banning order. Now, with the ominous
turn to a rhetoric of “information control” and
“media tribunals” by the ruling party, the political
urgency of this approach to South African sound art
is suddenly relevant again. More poignantly, the final
track on the album, “Play Around with the Buttons,”
splices Eskom advertising jingles with a recording of
an SABC outside broadcast unit trying ineptly to
transmit a live speech by Nelson Mandela. The grim
irony of Mandela’s speech lost in transmission by the
incompetence of the state broadcaster is presented
through a subtle manipulation of the live recordings.
And as a special bonus, the album features a “hidden
track” which first appeared at the Dada South?
exhibition in 2009. Entitled “Pigs at the Trough,”
the track is a montage of chanted ruling-alliance
slogans, mixed into the vividly recorded grunts and
wheezing of pigs guzzling slops. The contradiction
is as crude as any of the visual clashes in a John
Heartfield collage; and perhaps as necessary in these
pivotal times.
----Pof Christo Doherty-Art South Africa Jan2011
(Christo Doherty is Professor and Head of Digital
Arts in the Wits School of Arts, University of the
Witwatersrand. He is also a photographer and video
artist.)
-------------------------------------------

Well, the firebrand Warrick Sony is back — and he is angry. With his new album, One Party State, Sony returns to the overtly political song structures he created in the 1980s, but with a dystopian dubstep edge added to the mix. Sony is on the attack and he has the ANC-led government firmly in his sights. Lock and load. “I am feeling a rage that I haven’t felt since the bad old days,” says Sony. “A rage at being the joke of the world, being ashamed to be from here again is too much. “We have something approaching anarchy with a government so wrapped up in criminal prosecutions and court cases and infighting and backbiting that it is hard for it to find time to govern,” he says. “I have been feeling that a lot of the idiocracy going on now is not unsimilar to what we were dealing with in the 1980s. The kind of ‘Should I cry or should I laugh?’ moments with our political personalities that are very familiar to a lot of us who were creating artistic work during the apartheid years.
LLOYD GEDYE - May 07 2010 16:55 Mail&Gaurdian
__________________________________


reviews:
briancurrin.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/warrick-sony-unleashes-his-latest-kalahari-surfers-album/

www.mg.co.za/article/2010-05-07-dread-beat-and-blood

deonsimphiweskade.blogspot.com/2010/07/kalahari-surfers-one-party-state.html

credits

released February 18, 2010

Recorded at Milestone Studios Cape Town 2009-2010
www.milestones.co.za
All titles P&C Free State Music Publishing
Cover artwork by Grant Johnson
check out the new Brett Murray sculpture with the same title: www.brettmurray.co.za

Kalahari Surfers is: Warrick Sony= en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrick_Sony

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about

Kalahari Surfers South Africa

Warrick Sony is a South African composer, producer, musician and sound designer.
He is the founder and sole permanent member of the Kalahari Surfers. They made politically radical satirical music in 1980s South Africa.

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Track Name: Blackness and Light
Blackness and Light (W.Sony/L.Rampolokeng)

My Blackness cuts up the Light / The light cuts up my blackness
The light descends and strikes / To the heart of the night
Dusk around my head / The night
(Voice words- Lesego Rampolokeng)
Track Name: Cutting Yourself
Cutting Yourself (W.Sony)
“You must take care about cutting yourself”
“You must take care of........... ponies”
Track Name: A New Kind Of Leader
A New Kind Of Leader (W.Sony)
He was a new kind of leader / He spoke simply
Everyone could understand / He was a new kind of leader
He was a man of the people / He had his own vision
For boys and girls
Track Name: Gathering Data
Gathering Data
We took boats - We walked for miles
Up mountains - We took canoes
We chartered flights - We took four wheel drives
along the worst roads imaginable
We were out there in peoples homes
Track Name: Relax
in through the left and .......
out through the right
Track Name: Every Eventuality
Look on the bright side
Everything possible is being done
To cover any eventuality
Look on the Bright side
Track Name: Frontiers Of Madness
Frontiers of Madness (W.Sony)
------------------------------------
I’m going to leave you in the morning / With the rising sun
I’m going to leave you without warning / It’s the way things are done
On the frontiers of madness / I hear you crying in the dark
I don’t know how to reach you / While I’m running through the park.
I am only following orders / From a voice above
Personality disorders / In the name of love
I can feel it’s time to go / There’s nothing left to fight for
Good people have left / Criminals have rights
They’re going to shoot you in the evening / Silhouette against the sun
As it sets across the border / In high definition
On the frontiers of madness / Like a dancer in the dark
I know I’ll never see you / Walk your children through the park
(Vocals: Sarah Jane Mary Hills)
Track Name: Child Soldier
CHILD SOLDIER ( L.Rampolokeng)
-----------------------------------
We are the inscription invisible on the heroes
memorial
locked in cerebral manacles we rattle our brains
unhinged intellects
how do you embalm a phantom?

After the phantom birth a new death is here
in the colours of the brain blow
leader of the revolution is feeder of assimilation
steward on the march to depravation
and we move
out of the gravy and into the stew
it's a short walk to the sewer

the rage turns in
implosion
disengage the enemy within
we raise no busts no declaration
no dogma we are dumb-arse-down and out of sight
but the red in the carpet is ours

disengage the enemy within

embalm a phantom
Track Name: One Party State
The leader admonishes his followers.
Counter revolutionaries must be weeded out.
The media reports: “ no-election coverage, there’ll be no news reports. No updates. No television.”
Track Name: Intimidasie
Intimidasie (W.Sony)
---------------------------------
Wereld vrede (world peace)
Terreur en intimidasie (terror and intimidation)
Uit Afrika (out of Africa)
Track Name: In Transition (Featuring Lesego Rampolokeng)
In Transition words: L.Rampolokeng
---------------------------------------
We spin in circles of terror caught in the nightmare of judgement
Where the mirror of the present shows the error of the past
Where emotion supercedes reason
In transition
When the rains come the fires die yet we are warm
Like lice on the pubis in love time
Singing cold bones in the rain of hope
Around the flame of red dawn
In transition
We whirl on our stand
Kicking skulls on the soccerfield
and from the grandstand applause rings in blood-drops
celebrating the abortion of freedoms child
In transition
We are mutant legions defining ourselves in noble terms
Flaming placards at cold barricades
Drawing safe lines behind crumbling walls of euphoria
Behind the blades of our own danger
In transition
Petty bush pigs talking about negotiation table manners
Fuckademics unrolling scrotals of fartastic words
To enlighten the illiterate
Witches in churches passing the collection goal
Fools in schools without mules with whips and stools
And then tools
In transition
Thus we rush to the future
Unless the wheel of time gets a puncture

(Vocals: Lesego Rampolokeng)
Track Name: Minority Report (Featuring Lesego Rampolokeng)
Minority Report (words: W.Sony & Lesego Rampolokeng)
-----------------------
There’s a noise downstairs - Put on your clothes
Somebody is breathing - Standing quite close
There’s a man in the darkness
I can feel his light
Don’t call security - I think it’s all right

“Pull in and pull out
to be born and not to die
with a bullet in the gut and lie and bleed
in the dirt and a cigarette that won’t light
and when it does smoke comes through the throat
‘cos that’s where the blade cut
and a siren in the head
and wait for dawn
knowing your days are gone”

You used to tell me there was nothing to fear
Give me direction - make sure it is clear
We’re always leaving - with nothing but fear
Across the sea - we’ve got a cross to bear
“your days are gone”
“…trying to stop all these guys coming to me.
They’re trying to shoot. Look here. Look here.
They shoot…trying to shoot …here..and other one is here….”
Journalist:”there were many bullets huh?”
Ya .. so many bullets”