Fokofpolisiekar - Monoloog in Stereo

2006-04-19 12:15

Despite an over-abundance of nu-punk, nu-metal and emo bands (whatever emo means) in the Cape Town undergound where Fokof developed, five chaps decided to drive a straight rock outfit... that it would be completely Afrikaans was bordering on weird. But if you accept from the outset that Fokof are not supposed to reinvent the musical wheel, there's some true value to be found in their output.

Fokof's albums seem to be more about normal, personal stuff. Monoloog wallows in self-judgement, contradiction and paradox. It also bursts at the seams with clever word plays and thoughtful lines - as in the track "Monoloog in Stereo": "As daar so veel van ons is / hoekom sal enigiemand jou mis?" These are less observations than they are rhetorical enquiries... reminiscent in some abstract way of a depoliticised Gereformeerde Blues Band - if such a thing could ever exist.

So in one sense, they're a regular rock band that sings about rock band things... but there's a unique aspect: they're singing them from a young (sub)urban Afrikaner perspective. This is hugely significant, given the traditional image of Afrikaans music evident on channels like MK89 and SABC 1 and 2.

Fokofpolisiekar might be credited with two things: One, getting the likes of Koos and Valiant - the former icons of the Afrikaans Enlightment - to yell "Turn it down!". And two, simultaneously re-reminding us that Afrikaans music need not be limited to either "boerepunk", or subject matter like "Meisie Meisie" and "Warm Pattat", sung by smiling, perfectly dressed, shopping-mall and christian-friendly singers. The last time that happened (see Gereformeerde Blues Band, above), much of it was still dressed in the protest camouflage of the old South Africa.

Musically, Monoloog in Stereo moves away from the anthemic singalongs of As Jy Met Vuur Speel Sal Jy Brand (2004), and from the harder rock sound of Lugsteuring (2006) and finds more poetic, slower-paced, even reserved attempts at expression. It is effectively executed in its genre, and is probably by definition the most complete academic definition of "South African Rock" to be found.

There are truly beautiful moments within the short (six track running time), and there are also bleakly awkward moments as well. And then there are other moments both of these descriptions would fit.

That Monoloog is Stereo seeks to convey individual ideas and emotions, rather than represent vast hordes of "volk" or heritage, achieves the exact opposite reaction in its listeners - it has drawn its audience back from isolation. Sort of like a Rolling Stones for their own generation, which had for years been told that the only ideas available in their own language were those eschewed by Gerry and the Pacemakers.

In this way Monoloog in Stereo, as with any other Fokofpoliesiekar release to date, is extremely important. Let's hope the Fokof can keep up the good work in the years to come.

- Anton Marshall

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Despite what the band name (and their live act) suggests, Fokofpolisiekar do not embody an Afrikaner youth of carefree abandon. Nor do they really seem too concerned with the social repositioning of the young Afrikaner in post-apartheid South African society. That, to be frank, would be so 1994.

Peter Jones 2006/04/10 11:06 AM
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Peter Jones 2006/04/10 11:07 AM
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GB 2007/05/14 2:45 AM
Fokof kan 'n goeie toekoms tegemoetgaan as hulle die sensible ding doen en vir hulle 'n vocalist kry wat actually kan sing!
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