Cape Town music picks: October 1 2010

The Buckfever Underground and more from the PASS festival are on the menu this week.

  • ‘There are three things you can write songs about at least in this band: the one is death; the one is love; the other one is stuff like dooie stinkmuishonde” intones vocalist Toast Coetzer on beat poetic rocker ‘The Curator”, off The Buckfever Underground’s seminal live album, Limbs Gone Batty. With these words, Toast summarises everything great about the band’s music: its ability to have it both ways, to mix grand themes with myopic details, to be ironic and sincere, obscure and expansive, cultish and academic, rock ‘n roll but arty. Part everyday cultural anthropologists, part arcane philosophers, part rock ‘n roll savants, their ongoing adventures in mapping the Rainbow Nation’s road less travelled are essential listening for anyone looking for the missing links between personal and national redemption.

    Whether its post-punk reminders of our multifarious cultural and ethnic makeup, suitably blank Beat poetic sketches on the alienation and amnesia of social networking, or atmospheric post rock interrogations of how history is inscribed permanently in our psycho-geographies, The Buckfever deliver a polymorphous soundtrack that wickedly exploits the romance of rock ‘n’ roll to explore the shifting contours and constraints of contemporary South African Culture.

  • The PASS Festival hosts what promises to be another mesmerising double bill on October 1. Legendary Camerounian drummer and percussionist Brice Wassy mixes improvisation with sophisticated compositional imagination, elasticity and experimentation with timbre and harmony, as well as instruments new and ancient in his jazz-fuelled Afro-pop attack. Known as the ‘King of 6/8 Rhythm,’ Wassy has been a centrifugal force in African music for the past four decades.

    The former bandleader for Manu Dibango and Salif Keita, he has worked with Miriam Makeba, Mabi Thobejane, Madala Kunene, Toure Kunda, Moses Molelekwa, and Busi Mhlongo, as well as the likes of French jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, Cuban percussionist Changuito, and Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira. Impressive CV aside, Wassy is a formidable talent who deserves to be listen to on his own terms. His music is a full-frontal rhythmic attack profoundly rooted in Africa, but opened to all genres. Bringing together jazz and Afro-pop, he mixes improvisation with sophisticated compositional imagination; elasticity and experimentation with timbre and harmony; instruments new and old. As Fela Kuti once put it, Wassy has ‘opened our minds with the militancy of his message and our hearts to the rhythms of Afrobeat.’ Ethiopia’s Imperial Tiger Orchestra sidestep big band stereotypes with their retro-futurist fusion of traditional hypnotic rhythms, fierce grooves and future-forward electronic vision.

    Expect to hear funky fresh new spins on screaming blues, traditional Thai ‘phin’ guitar and age-old Ethiopian ‘kebero’ percussion sounds on support.
    Albert Hall, 208 Albert Road, Woodstock, October 1, 10.30pm. Entrance is R30 (pre-sold) or R50 (door). Book at Computicket. Website:

  • The live component of the 3rd and final Pan African Space Station Festival reaches a fitting finale on October 2 when a star studded cast of musical Afronauts from global Africa showcase their genre-busting sounds. Johnny Cradle showcases an enigmatic roots electronica brew that fits ‘right between Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the nerd scoring virtual bleeps on the computer screen’ in the warm up slot.

    American funk-fusion chanteuse Georgia Anne Muldrow and soulmate Dudley Perkins (Declaime) map the missing links between beat konductas like Madlib and Dilla and early-1970s free soul and jazz pioneers such as Pharaoh Sanders with their de-and-reconstructed hip-hop, electro, R&B, soul rhythms and modern laptop mayhem. Thandiswa Mazwai travels deep into traditional Zulu and Xhosa melodies and rhythms to map out a fiercely individual route from past to present, signposted with borrowings from jazz, funk, Mbaqanga, reggae, quasi-gospel and thumping kwaito when she gives soulful, jazzy Afrobeaten originals off her award-winning albums, Zabalaza and Ibokwe a trio makeover. Visionary guitarist, composer and bandleader Dr Phillip Tabane traces gospel, blues and funk back to their African roots through through rich polyrhythmic African beats and alchemic free jazz improvisation with his band Malombo. Finally, trail blazing producer Mbuso T cocktails street-infected Soweto funk with spirited organic Afro-jazz, deep, irresistibly thumpin’ techno and classy nu-soul candied house in his latest Maf & So evolution.
    Guga S’thebe Centre, Washington Road, Langa, October 2, noon to 6pm. Entrance is R30 (pre-sold) or R50 (door). Book at Computicket. Website:

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