Fokofpolisiekar - Swanesang

2006-11-23 15:42

Truly, were it not for Fokofpolisiekar and perhaps a handful of other bands, Afrikaans rock music would be in a sorry state. For the most part, a culturally-centered music genre like Afrikaans rock (and Traditional Irish, and Sicilian Folk) runs a gauntlet of traditionalism versus rebellion, and Fokof had had their share of controversy in this regard.

Yet they’ve refused to actually position themselves as the total anarchists most naysayers believe them to be. Their music is no more punk than, say, Audioslave or at a push Soundgarden, and their seemingly wild stage act belies a similarly slick approach.

As such, there are no surprises on Swanesang – all the tracks stick to a pretty solid concept, which is moderately paced and consistently performed. For Fokofpolisiekar it is a release tailor-made for their audience. And, to be honest, that’s something they’ve always been good at – feeding the needs of their fanbase.

As songs go, Hunter Kennedy’s poetic, idiosyncratic philosophies deliver some trinkets, even if Francois van Coke’s delivery never feels preachy: “Om vinniger daar te kom sal jy vinniger moet ry / om vinniger te lewe maak jou vinniger dood” they say on "Swanesang", perhaps beginning to realise that the investment of being where they are creates its own life value. Sex, drugs and rock and roll? Sure, but your life’s pretty empty if that’s all you end up wanting.

Familiarity may be to blame, but the outstanding track of the collection, both in arrangement and conception, is “Brand Suid Afrika”. Kennedy calls it Fokof’s reply to people who preach negative sentiment about the state of the country. And it’s words are frantic and angry, while it’s killer riff takes a lead from the outset and drives its perfect three and a half minutes.

Swanesang is likely to be more widely accepted than their previous work, even by those who haven’t succumbed to the juggernaut that is Fokofpolisiekar – and there can’t be too many of them left. Fokof’s audience is theoretically the smallest in a market that the local music industry says is commercially unviable. Ironically, Fokofpolisiekar are arguably the most commercially viable rock band in the country. Take that “experts”.

- Anton Marshall

Want more Fokofpolisiekar?

Watch Fokof:

- They smasha guitars: exclusive video

- Watch or download the Brand Suid-Afrika music video

Listen to Fokof:

- Download Fokofpolisiekar MP3s for free

- Listen to our interview with the band (audio podcast)

Fokof’s first full-length release in a long, long time sees them successfully affecting a noise viable enough for broadcast with one bugbear: it has Afrikaans lyrics, and a voice that speaks to and for a largely undermined and seemingly disenfranchised market sector.

What to read next: Kalahari

donna 2006/11/22 9:34 AM
swanesang Dis die woorde van 'n generasie wat nie veel se het nie. Alles maak sin in hul songs.
Chris 2006/11/22 1:33 PM
Swanesang Maybe it's just me, but why is the fact that the lyrics are Afrikaans a bug-bear? That is an alarmingly English attitude - parochialism at its worst - (although I know the problem to be real). Fokofpolisiekar are amongst the best in a crowded market. Personally speaking, my Afrikaans stinks, but I don't care. They're good in any language. We've got 11 languages, for goodness sake. What are we heading for now, Music Apartheid? Brand Suid Afrika rocks - play it everywhere!
del. 2006/11/22 1:59 PM
Are you serious? Fokofpolisiekar the most commercially viable rock act in South Africa? Soundgarden and Audioslave indeed, I mean, they're good, but it's just Afrikaans grunge. The style suits the language, it's fun and bouncy, but better than The Beams? Better than the Wild Eyes or Eat This, Horse? I saw Fokof once, at the Cape Tonw Massive Mix, that was more than enough for me. Seeing them play alongside acts like Seether and Metallica really put things into perspective.
AM 2006/11/22 3:46 PM
Chris... Don't get me wrong. Stating the fact (or perceived fact) is not at all tantamount to Parochialism. That Fokof play what they play in an Afrikaans medium very much sets them apart from others who play exactly the same style of music in an English medium. In this Country, Afrikaans maintains a very tangible code of "ethics" around how it sees itself - it is always in relation to a sense of cultural condition. "Is this the state of our language?" This has been asked before of BVK, Koos Kombuis and even David Kramer.
Chris 2006/11/22 4:25 PM
Swanesang AM. I should have made myself clearer. I wasn't accusing you of parochialism. I know that you are referring to an existing attitude. My point is, I expect that attitude from my countrymen, the English, who allow for music in a language other than English about once every 15 years. It's just that I would have expected a greater degree of tolerance in SA. And Del, compare oranges with oranges. FPK with Metallica? The comparison you make is like comparing Danny K with, say, Robbie Williams. Two different leagues, status wise. One local, the other international. Do a few downloads of FPK's peers off this site and then make a comparison. They have little competition, in any language.
Kevin 2006/11/22 8:21 PM
swanesang The lively debate continues which is great that fpk can provoke this kind of response. They are brave and challenge their audience to question their preconceptions and that is always a good thing. I don't like to over-philosophise music as it is intended to speak to emotions, so to Anton Marshall - ease off dude. I don't this band is intent on feeding their fanbase exactly what they want to hear as a marketing strategy. Talent like theirs should never be trivialised, but nurtured.
Chris 2006/11/23 10:28 AM
Chris... Kevin... Agreed. The irony is that on the ground, Fokof are a major draw to any show anywhere in the country. It is in fact the broadcast/mainstream media faction that largely tries to push them aside. Kevin>> I didn't say it was a marketing strategy. I said they were good at delivering what their fanbase needed. That's a great quality for a band to have, especially if you can balance that with an artistic integrity, which Fokof seems to have.
AM 2006/11/23 10:29 AM
Sorry... That last comment was me again...
Joanne 2007/11/02 1:45 PM
Julle Rock Ek vokken "love" julle ouens!!!
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