The NBTMusicReview 139

Older Reviews (1 – 123) can be found here

Tracks from Asleep In Transit’s EP can also be heard on the NBTMusicRadio during the 6 PM (Berlin Time) slot

Wide-awake in a starry sky: Asleep in Transit – Jackie Horner Pub, Helen Joseph Road, Glenwood, Durban. 08 September 2012

review: Helge Janssen

This five member band, formed as a duo almost two years ago, presented the Jackie Horner pub with an acoustic set as a threesome: singer/percussion Irena Buzdugan, acoustic guitarist Allister Christie, and bassist Joshua Woolf. Vlad Buzdugan (synthesizer) and Chris McNabb (drums) were otherwise engaged.

Like the proverbial live-wire, Irina Buzdugan’s beautiful voice weaves its way around the acoustic and bass guitars, slithers through the notes sparking their intention, explores range and depth, tempo and space, stretches, evolves – holds time itself -with an ease of expression that belies its depth of persuasion. As such, Irina locates  the melody outside of and between the driving rhythms with intuitive jazzy-verve. This creates space for melodic invention that is the casting point of strength of this band. With charisma to match, her exotic beauty is alluring and mesmerising, while the two guitarists wouldn’t be out of place in a vogue photographic shoot either! Allister has a natural alto voice that entwines Irina’s in an harmonic, shamanic echo-chorus – and at other times he leads – that is as pleasing as it is surprising. With his acoustic guitar, at times banjo-like, sometimes upbeat in a blue-grass kind of way, Allister forms and informs the essential fulcrum through which the performers anchor their focus while allowing space for each musician to explore their potential unhindered.

Joshua is reinventing the bass guitar: at times driving the songs rhythm, at others leading with an electric guitar-like riff, or happy to simply accentuate and prolong the dramatic use of a deep and warm bass reverb in sudden contrast to the dancing higher notes, he is always inventive. And yet, these bass guitar melodies do exactly what a bass guitar is meant to do: heighten the countering rhythm, and add depth to instrument structure.

Of particular note too is the arrangement of the songs. These have well thought out deceptively simple layers of melodies that dance around the primary rhythms sustaining aural intrigue progressively adding depth and range to the dramatic context. These performers are not afraid to play with time, have an equable performance style which belies the poignancy in their message. The songs are thought provoking, memorable and accessible. I had a strong sense of lateral thinking infusing their creative processes. This allows for maximum individual input within an infrastructure of mutual respect. Listen to “Brother, Sister” or “What a mess we must appear” which are both melancholic AND upbeat and will have you smiling!

What a Mess We Must Appear:

“Why’d you burn all the buildings?

I just don’t get it.

Why can’t you tell your smoke from fire?

I heard I’m dying tonight
and I think I just found out why..”

This rich tapestry with its counter-point surprises forms the essential drive and interest that becomes the expansive whole of ‘Asleep in Transit’. As such they have produced a unique alternative Durban sound. From this showing this band could neatly slot into the international circuit and they definitely have what it takes to rise to the top.

They might be ‘asleep in transit’ but they are very much wide-awake in transmission!

WHAT a boon! You can download their debut album FREE here: http://soundcloud.com/asleep-in-transit/sets/asleep-in-transit-ep

web site: http://www.asleepintransit.com

Durban is exploding with musical talent!

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The NBT Review 134

Physics for Poets: Nick Darcy-Fox

A Review by Helge Janssen

ISBN 9781466462106

Physics, distinguished from that of chemistry and biology includes: mechanics, heat, light and other radiation, sound, electricity, magnetism, and the structure of atoms.

Poet: a person possessing special powers of imagination or expression

This is an exceptionally well-written uncontrite and at times humour-filled tale of seemingly trite White South African life in the dying days of apartheid….into the crossover of the ‘new’ reality…where the relatively sudden adjustment of having to accept that the ‘swart gevaar’ was to be the New Government was as difficult to grasp as any interrupted dream might be. Set in Durban between 1988 and 1990 this is an earnest coming-of-age story of teenage angst as it negotiates a way through sex, drugs and alternative music.

And then a gap in this nightmare: ‘Faces’ nightclub….a fissure enough to affirm a vital perspective.

Relating events is Charl Forth (roughly fifteen in the earlier parts of the story) who is in the throes of realizing that things are not quite right in this land of Nod. Not to mention the omnipresent emotional dishonesty bred through political disinformation that is fostered hand in hand with contorted truth. This reality check is eventually highlighted with the release of Nelson Mandela causing disparate political undercurrents within relationships to become starker: life was indeed very dire hanging at this abyss-edge of total onslaught. One scenario: as Belinda (the girlfriend) and Charl boringly await the release of Mandela from prison (poor T.V. coverage) their dialogue reveals Belinda’s racism and growing sense of threat welling up as a need for sexual affirmation.

The narrative of ‘Physics for Poets’ interweaves subtle allegorical cross linkages and nuances of sexual current/oppressive heat/weather/human behaviour/political change perceptively and craftily within the backdrop of contortions within family life. As such this tale becomes a most poetically inventive, linguistically ingenious, politically left convolution of these problematic times. The over-all dynamic of the text – where sentences and imagery constantly clip-flip into place – gives a sense that Charl is dealing with the intricacies of a South African Rubik’s Cube.

A troubled youth attempting to find cognizance of life’s profound imports while being held in the travails of its ubiquitous cavernous insanity: apartheid – perversely in every nook, cranny, classroom and graveyard. Charl is not only trying to negotiate his way through matric, he also has to face his own demons.

The grim prospects of a warped education system….hell bent on indoctrination….robbing white South Africans of authenticity – is well captured. To not be sucked into the convention needed a cutting edge intelligence counter balanced by a willingness to live in the moment. But, as Syd Kitchen famously said: “South Africa is not for sissies” we realise it is for those who somehow manage to plumb some depth into their psyche honestly, that salvation is possible. This twist of cognizance comes as a calibre that cannot be earned lightly: a spiritual mettle that cuts through the silly double-speak and one-upmanship with deftness….while at the same time realising that the bigger picture is far more serious….if not just a pack of cards so easily collapsible. Charls’ anarchy therefore rests in his spontaneity and he emerges as the antihero not indifferent to the scores he settles (private and political) launching his broadsides with startling accuracy. As such the innate (poetic) mien of his nature is affirmed. He represents the LIFE apartheid tried so hard to quell. The crime (for those who are not aware) is that this is any person’s automatic birthright.

The language is sharp and the sentences bristle with inventiveness and perspicacity. The pace is measured and, as such, creates space for the undercurrent to surface. The situations unfold effortlessly yet surprisingly. I could not put the book down – until closing it with a broad smile on my face. A must read.

ps: the club ‘Faces’ referred to – and experienced – in the novel quite clearly is PLAY at the Community Arts Workshop in Walnut Road. This barn-like building stood next to what became Tilt Night Club and was demolished in 1989 to make way for the multi-story Bureau de Change.

http://www.bookdepository.com/Physics-for-Poets-Nick-Darcy-Fox/9781466462106
10.66

Otherwise the kindle can be found here:
http://www.amazon.com/Physics-for-Poets-ebook/dp/B006NZFX8K/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1329442134&sr=8-8
as well as the actual book here:
http://www.amazon.com/Physics-Poets-Nick-Darcy-Fox/dp/1466462108/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1329442134&sr=8-3