Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Deep South.

Living on a peninsula, as we do, means being prepared when you leave home. Extra clothes, a hat, perhaps a snack. Distances are great and there is no turning back. You learn to plan your outing: acupuncture goes with checking the post box goes with the odd haircut or book and record shopping along the way. Exceptions are made for live music.

I last wrote about Benguela in 2010, just after the release of their album Black South Easter.

I saw Benguela play at the Speedway
on Thursday night. 
Their music is a little perplexing to label. Strings of stylistic tags pop into my head and most of them feel inapt. The term 'improv' has always irked me. So. Rooted in jazz - but without the structure, dripping electronic treatments, dark psych guitar and double bass, loungy low-end sections. Tenacious levels of technical proficiency. Intricate cadence. Tough yet tender. Warm and deep. The music unfolds and then folds back on itself. At times I felt like I was underwater.

 After seeing them at a tiny jazz bar the other night, I wax on:
 Perhaps it's just the shortening of the word improvisation that I don't like. For improvise is what they do. They don't play songs, they play... fugues. They play luscious rhapsodies.
Their technical virtuosity has but grown. The tall man spoke about the way Cream's Ginger Baker referred to a drummer's ability to swing. Then he said: Well, I think he'd agree - Ross swings.
Ross Campbell is the frontman - the only one of the trio who occasionally looks up and speaks. Alex Bozas and Brydon Bolton live in a shimmering world of their own: introspection and guitar pedals. Endless nuance.

We stayed for both sets, leaving mesmerised and in wonder. Wishing that there were recordings of every session, like the Grateful Dead.

Back at home we have not been underwater, we have had none. Daily events leave one thinking that South Africa IS in fact going to hell in a hand basket. The gradual closing of post offices with mail not arriving. Regular power cuts. The fact that a broken municipal stopcock takes three days to fix. Never-ending phone calls to the city council, just to find out that there is only one small truck and four men taking care of the water woes of an entire peninsula.

The tall man eventually went looking for them to beg. At the address supplied he found a small van. Are you water?, he asked.
No, we're phone.
Directed a little further on, he found the men inside a hole as big as our lounge, fixing a vast burst pipe.
One of them had a small torn slip of paper in his pocket with our address on it, written in pencil. They communicate with the council via radio.
One forgets how dismal a life is with no shower, no flush toilet, no running water. That millions of people in the townships and rural areas live without, walking miles sometimes to fill containers.
Then again, we pay big bills and expect service in return.

I suppose I often write about the smaller pleasures to keep the darkness at bay. Here's one for you:
The eggs have hatched! I snuck a quick peek. They are the smallest little wisps of dark grey down you can imagine, with yellow beaks always open for more.
Robin and Robin's mate make music too.


Norma West said...

I know that I am quick to tears but this piece brought them quicker than usual, I wanted to hear the music you described, I wanted to be there, to see , to feel and to hear..this is difficult in this part of Spain, I am in the middle. In South there is gypsy music and in the north the European stream, so I am reliant on CDs and grateful for them, but oh for a night of music in the blood!!!
And then the tale of the breaking up of services that we have come to expect, take for granted...funny we have no water today because with the tourist influx following almost three years of scant rainfall we must conserve..but we know that in two weeks when the tourists leave the coast and go home ,all will be well. Not so in our beloved country
What will it take to change the order I wonder.

the sourcerer said...

Dearest Norma -
I wish you'd been there with us!
Sending you love.

dinahmow said...

Thank you. For words about music.For reminding me that I have piped water, albeit ever more expensive. And for robin fluff.

the sourcerer said...

My pleasure ! :-)