Rian Malan - Alien Inboorling

2006-03-30 10:01

The music on this album is by no means groundbreaking stuff. Malan employs various combinations of familiar sounds - mainly from the drunken blues, the spoken word, and the Afrikaans blues / rock idiom. Think one bottle of Johnny Cash, a sniff of Nick Cave, a few shots of early Tom Waits, liberal lashings of Afrikaans rock a la Kerkorrel, Koos Kombuis and co, and a bit of Lou Reed. Then fill the melting pot right to the top with the relentless rhythms and ominous melodies that make Valiant Swart's blues so addictive. Rian Malan (part soutie that he is) calls this style "Blougras" (Bluegrass, sort of).

A concept album is a difficult thing to get right. It can wind up being more of an experimental art piece than an album - think The Who's much-overrated Tommy... leaving you to thank your deity of choice for iPods, and the ability to edit the playlist to remove atmospheric nonsense.

What makes a good concept work is the passion for storytelling or characterisation - a passion controversy-courting writer and journalist Rian Malan has aplenty. The album explores a bitter and ultimately tragic personality through the stories of its speakers - various Afrikaans men. The album title Alien Inboorling (which translates as "Alien Native") encapsulates the theme: the struggle between helpless kinship with the Africa we were born to, and a sense of impermanence - a feared failure to really belong.

But despite the familiar themes, Malan's portrait is not a one dimensional one, and is full of unexpected twists. The songs seamlessly blend the personal and the existential as life does.

"Trekboer" (the opening song, wrongly listed on the CD sleeve) is sung as a love letter to a woman left behind. "Bloekomboom" rather cheaply appears to compare the alien vegetation to human "alien". "Coenraad Buys" is the heady but disturbing story of a boer 'going native'. "Eens" is so traditional it could be a song for kiddies TV. "Boer Se Nie Jammer Nie" sketches strange cultural comings together. "Alleen" is a heart rending story of a desperately lonely, polite man who joins a dance club to try to meet a woman and finds freedom in Tango. Though there's a glowing vein of pain running through the album, there's plenty of hope and bravery too.

If you loved David Kramer's brilliant Die Verhaal Van Blokkies Joubert, this is essential listening for you. It's an honest, touching, occasionally funny and often disturbing exploration of our changing culture.

- Jean Barker

Rian Malan making music? What? You'd be forgiven for responding exactly in those words. Malan did so himself at first. But Alien Inboorling succeeds where many other concept albums have failed.

Gerald Nagel 2005/12/12 8:00 AM
Bloekomboom A bit melodramatic but aimed at the sole of a an undecided culture. Yes
tiens geldenhuys 2007/03/07 7:34 PM
bloekomboom ek is 39 en nou 'n eerstejaar op Stellenbosch. Ek het as vak Afrikaans 178 Ideologie geneem vir 2007. ons het 'n werkopdrag gekry om 'n afrikaanse liriek te neem en as teks te bespreek. dit moet more om 12h00 ingegee word. ek het bloekomboom gekies want die lied het 'n groot indruk op my gemaak. My interpretasie van die lirieke word as werkstuk ingelewer vir'n punt om te kyk of ek die kursus verstaan. Van die bietjie inligting wat ek oor die skrywer gelees het het my net meer nuuskierig gemaak oor die bedoeling van die woorde. ek is skrikkerig om te sktuf wat ek regtig dink en dit laat my besef ek is een van die vele wat so baie vrae het nie net oor die afrikaanse taal maar ook die afrikaner se kommer oor ons toekoms. ek sou graag wou he dat my interpretasie gelees word en sien of ek 'n idee het wat die lied in diepte beteken, die vrae wat gestel word en die vrae wat ek het. baie dankie vir die inligting wat my werkstuk vergemalik het, tiens
Linza 2007/03/30 5:46 PM
bloekomboom Tiens Geldenhuys, ek sal baie graag jou werkstuk wou lees , ek stel baie belang, as jy dit dalk sal wil deel. Ek is tans in New York, swot hier Politieke Wetenskappe, en natuurlik word ek baie vra gevra oor Afrikaans, die Afrikaner-itentiteit, ens. Daar is 'n fantasties stuk in die onlangse Guardian van London geskryf, hier is die skakel... http://observer.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,329754389-110648,00.html The dark heart of the new South Africa For years, Rian Malan has unflinchingly dared to say the unsayable about his native country, believing murder, corruption and disharmony will tear the rainbow nation into its separate colours. It's a conviction that has cost him his marriage and almost his sanity. Tim Adams travels to Johannesburg to meet the controversial writer Tim Adams Sunday March 25, 2007 Een van die aanhalings van Rian Malan is die volgende: 'Afrikaners were so vilified in the latter years of apartheid that they just kept their heads down and put
Linza 2007/03/30 5:47 PM
bloekomboom ...and put up with any shit for the first 10 years of the democratic experiment.' Now they were not so sure. Ek stel werklik belang om te hoor hoe Afrikaners voel oor Suid-Afrika, en ek het ook sopas Malan se boek, MY TRAITOR'S HEART gekoop, om meer te hoor. Ek het ook Antjie Krog se COUNTRY OF MY SKULL verlede jaar gelees en dit gebruik in 'n werkstuk wat ek geskryf het oor hoe taal maak wie jy is in Afrika, en veral hierdie kwotasie het my bygebly: “Was apartheid the product of some horrific shortcomings in Afrikaner culture. Could one find the key to this in Afrikaner songs and literature, in beer and braaivleis (barbecue)? How do I live with the fact that all the words used to humiliate, all the orders given to kill, belonged to the language of my heart? At the [Truth and Reconcilliation] hearings, many of the victims faithfully reproduced these parts of their stories in Afrikaans as proof of the bloody fingerprints upon them.” (Krog 313) Ek hoor graag terug...
Catharina Ganter 2007/09/18 9:48 AM
Alien Inboorling (all of them) Type your review here Rian se musiek is goed! Ek is bly ek kan Afrikaans verstaan!
Catharina Ganter 2007/09/18 9:48 AM
Alien Inboorling (all of them) Type your review here Rian se musiek is goed! Ek is bly ek kan Afrikaans verstaan!
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