Sweaty night at the armpit

The Bohemian in Richmond was the setting for a night of mayhem last Friday that had been dubbed Die Donderende Doodsnag (The thundering night of death). Regular punters would have noticed that Tshwane’s industrial rockers Nul, along with sidekick Thys Nywerheid, have been heading south once a month to bring their pounding live show to the armpit of Jo’burg, otherwise affectionately know as the Bo. This particular Friday the boys from the north had roped in eccentric Afrikaans singer/songwriter Riku Latti and new electro outfit Devil’s Cartel.

The evening kicked off with Thys Nywerheid, the side project of NuL guitarist Dawid Kahts and DJ Jamie Sharpe, who describe their band as the “original big-beat rock spider”. Ultimately, what that sounds like is a fusion of Propellerheads/Chemical Brothers’ beats with psychedelic Hendrix/Pink Floyd guitar and insane political rants in Afrikaans. Although the band’s sound can be rather unsettling, I think that might just be the point—an Afrikaans version of Britain’s cultural noise terrorists Pop Will Eat Itself, if you will.

The faithful Bohemian crowd was then treated to a rare Radio Lava gig.

Radio Lava is the name given to the bunch of musicians Riku Latti surrounded himself with last year to complete an album released under the same name earlier this year.

Alongside Riku Latti on stage stood ex-Battery 9 guitarist, current Diesel Whore Arnaud van Vliet and mad genius composer/ producer Jahn Beukes, who took care of the sampling. Latti had the crowd wrapped around his finger with his brand of alternative Afrikaans pop music, as he and the band worked through the tracks from Radio Lava. The added guest appearances from Jim Neversink on lap-steel guitar and Battery 9’s Huyser Burger, who rapped his way through Sneeuwitjie se Partyttjie (Snow White’s Party), added an extra dimension to this great show.

After a disappointing set from Devil’s Cartel, NuL took to the stage in the early hours of the morning, bringing the show to a pulsing climax with their powerhouse blend of killer beats, driving guitar riffs and stabbing synthesiser. Nul frontman Adriaan Pelzer is a man possessed on stage, the focal point for Nul’s dynamic show.

NuL effortlessly blend social commentary with healthy doses of humour to create a challenging yet thoroughly enjoyable live show. Musically they blend varied influences ranging from Battery 9 to Aphex Twin and Rammstein to Frank Zappa into their sound, which they have dubbed elektroniese revolusiemusiek (electronic revolution music).

Their second album aptly titled Twee is currently available at gigs, or you can download the entire album for free from the band’s website (www.nul.com.sg).

The Bohemian can be found at the corner of Park and Menton roads, Richmond, Johannesburg. Tel: 011 482 1725. Visit: www.thebo.co.za

Risky business
Lloyd Gedye chats to NuL frontman Adriaan Pelzer about giving music away for free

What led to the decision to publish your music using a creative-commons licence and to make it available for free downloads?
At the time, I was looking for a license similar to the Linux GPL, but with more freedom, and more geared towards music. Creative Commons met those needs exactly, especially with the freedom it gives you to decide exactly how restrictive you want your licence to be.

To answer the second part of the question, we as Nul believe music is inherently free, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. It’s like air. So, it’s not our decision to make it free.

In a new music industry that is geared more and more towards the free download, how do bands make ends meet?
With the music market being in the transitional phase that it is in today [paid-for music to free music] gives bands the unique opportunity to get a jump-start on marketing themselves by providing easy access to their free music, since many bands don’t realise the importance of that yet. That said, I think producing music in South Africa remains a high-risk, long-term investment, mostly done not to make money, but barely to survive, and enjoying the hell out of it! All the members of Nul have day jobs.

Your album and live show both have moments that are reminiscent of Frank Zappa, so to put to you a question that Zappa once posed rhetorically—Does humour belong in music?
That’s a big compliment, thanks! Yes, humour indeed belongs in music, and this is explored far too little in modern music. To quote Frank Zappa again, people think humour in music is where the trumpet goes: “Fwhaap, Fwhaap, Fwhaaaaap…”

How important is a band like Battery 9 to you as a band and to the SA music scene in general?
I think they opened the South African [and especially Afrikaans] music scene to a lot of variety by establishing a boundary quite far out, thus opening a lot of creative potential between what they did and the norm.

Lloyd Gedye

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