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Kalahari Surfers

Kalahari Surfers

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The Kalahari Surfers is the moniker of South African composer and musician Warrick Sony
Warrick Sony
Warrick Sony is a South African composer, producer, sonic artist, performer and sound designer, who has worked for two decades on a multitude of films, documentaries, art events, theatre, dance, and project albums...

. It began as a solo recording project in the early 1980s to subvert the total media and propaganda onslaught of P. W. Botha’s
Pieter Willem Botha
Pieter Willem Botha , commonly known as "P. W." and Die Groot Krokodil , was the prime minister of South Africa from 1978 to 1984 and the first executive state president from 1984 to 1989.First elected to Parliament in 1948, Botha was for eleven years head of the Afrikaner National Party and the...

 Apartheid South Africa
History of South Africa in the apartheid era
Apartheid was a system of racial segregation enforced by the National Party governments of South Africa between 1948 and 1994, under which the rights of the majority 'non-white' inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and white supremacy and Afrikaner minority rule was maintained...

. With guest musicians, the Kalahari Surfers recorded five albums, toured Europe and played concerts in East Berlin
East Berlin
East Berlin was the name given to the eastern part of Berlin between 1949 and 1990. It consisted of the Soviet sector of Berlin that was established in 1945. The American, British and French sectors became West Berlin, a part strongly associated with West Germany but a free city...

, Moscow, Riga
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

 and Leningrad
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

.

The 1980s


The Kalahari Surfers began with a 1981 home recorded cassette titled "Gross National Products".
They then built a reputation as being one of the most politically radical musical forces in South Africa. Their second release was a double single package "Burning Tractors Keep Us Warm" released by Pure Freude Records. German group Can
Can (band)
Can was an experimental rock band formed in Cologne, West Germany in 1968. Later labeled as one of the first "krautrock" groups, they transcended mainstream influences and incorporated strong minimalist and world music elements into their often psychedelic music.Can constructed their music largely...

 were involved with this label and, along with other,so called, krautrock
Krautrock
Krautrock is a generic name for the experimental music scenes that appeared in Germany in the late 1960s and gained popularity throughout the 1970s, especially in Britain. The term is a result of the English-speaking world's reception of the music at the time and not a reference to any one...

 bands, were an important influence on the Surfers sound at this time.
Shifty Records
Shifty Records
Founded by Lloyd Ross and Ivan Kadey, Shifty Records was a South African anti-apartheid record label which existed for over a decade beginning 1982...

 tried to release their 1982 release album "Own-Affairs" http://kalaharisurfer.bandcamp.com/album/own-affairs but could not find a vinyl pressing plant who would do it. The reasons given by EMI
EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

 were that it was "too political".

Those who owned the means of production were controlled firstly by themselves (self-censorship
Self-censorship
Self-censorship is the act of censoring or classifying one's own work , out of fear of, or deference to, the sensibilities of others, without overt pressure from any specific party or institution of authority...

 i.e. those too afraid to put a step wrong made it impossible for others to realize their objectives) and then by the State: anything which had made it into the mainstream which was found undesirable was then banned.

Chris Cutler
Chris Cutler
Chris Cutler is an English percussionist, composer, lyricist and music theorist. Best known for his work with English avant-rock group Henry Cow, Cutler was also a member and drummer of a number of other bands, including Art Bears, News from Babel, Pere Ubu and Gong/Mothergong...

's London based Recommended Records
Recommended Records
Recommended Records is a British independent record label and distribution network founded by Chris Cutler in March 1978. RēR features largely "Rock in Opposition" and related music, but it also distributes selected music released on other independent labels.In 1982 Cutler established November...

 pressed the album and set up an alliance that continues to this day. Cutler (ex-Henry Cow
Henry Cow
Henry Cow were an English avant-rock group, founded at Cambridge University in 1968 by multi-instrumentalists Fred Frith and Tim Hodgkinson. Henry Cow's personnel fluctuated over their decade together, but drummer Chris Cutler and bassoonist/oboist Lindsay Cooper were important long-term members...

 drummer) helped set up tours and in 1985 they put out the second album Living In The Heart Of The Beast to critical acclaim. The album title was taken from the title of a Tim Hodgkinson
Tim Hodgkinson
Tim Hodgkinson is an English experimental music composer and performer, principally on reeds and keyboards. He is best known as one of the core members of the British avant-rock group Henry Cow, which he formed with Fred Frith in 1968...

 composition, "Living in the Heart of the Beast
Living in the Heart of the Beast
"Living in the Heart of the Beast" is the title of an extended song written and composed by Tim Hodgkinson in 1975 for the English avant-rock group Henry Cow...

" on the Henry Cow album In Praise of Learning
In Praise of Learning
In Praise of Learning is an album by British avant-rock groups Henry Cow and Slapp Happy, recorded at Virgin Records' Manor studios in February and March 1975...

 (1975).
A unique South African album, Living in the Heart of the Beast pushed the barriers of local independent music. Stylistically it ranged from dub-reggae, art rock, rap, and punk—Zappa-ish
Frank Zappa
Frank Vincent Zappa was an American composer, singer-songwriter, electric guitarist, record producer and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, orchestral and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed...

 in places (with the use of rapid tape splice edits and juxtaposing of ironic bits of state propaganda broadcasts).

The Surfers moved to London to complete the third album Sleep Armed and to perform live concerts there and in Europe. The Kalahari Surfers were seen as far afield as the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, Moscow, Leningrad
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, Riga
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

, East Berlin
East Berlin
East Berlin was the name given to the eastern part of Berlin between 1949 and 1990. It consisted of the Soviet sector of Berlin that was established in 1945. The American, British and French sectors became West Berlin, a part strongly associated with West Germany but a free city...

 and London. The 1980s ended with the release of a fourth album Bigger Than Jesus (Beachbomb) which was officially banned in South Africa followed by concerts in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and East Germany (the first South African rock group to do that).These albums are all available in their original form as downloads with inserts and scans of the covers etc at http://www.kalaharisurfers.co.za

Post 1980s


The new millennium consolidated the New South Africa and new technologies influenced the Surfers sound. The avant garde moved into the mainstream and, in the clubs of Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...

, the Surfers found a younger audience who were drawn to their eclectic electro world-dub, sound. The new millennium saw a number of releases through African Dope Records and Microdot Records:
  • One Party State saw the licensing of tracks for various films commercials and television,
  • Muti Media featured a sculpture by artist Brett Murray
    Brett Murray
    Brett Murray is a South African artist mostly known for his steel and mixed media wall sculptures. He was born in Pretoria, South Africa...

     on the cover
  • Conspiracy of Silence, and
  • Panga Management  followed.

Remix projects include work for M.E.L.T. 2000 on the Busi Mhlongo remix album as well as an "African Cheese" set for the BBC Food
BBC Food
BBC Food was the name of the BBC's international commercial television channel focusing solely on food until it was replaced in the television markets it was broadcast by BBC Lifestyle. The channel was owned and operated by BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm.The channel launched in June 2002...

 series Cooked in Africa.
  • One Party State is the most recent release on Microdot and was debuted at the African Soul Rebels Tour 2010

Recent work

  • the Wiesen Festival in Austria 2006 and the Unyazi Electronic Music symposium at Wits University
    University of the Witwatersrand
    The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg is a South African university situated in the northern areas of central Johannesburg. It is more commonly known as Wits University...

    , Johannesburg
    Johannesburg
    Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

    ,
  • Turbulence the South African art Exhibition in Salzburg—Red Bull's Hangar 7 event, March 2007.

Recent work includes:
  • the experimental sound design and final mix for the feature film SMS Sugarman
  • Co-producing and arranging for the album The Triptic (2007) for Polish metal band Sweet Noise
    Sweet Noise
    Sweet Noise is a Polish alternative metal band. The group was formed in 1990 in Swarzędz. They have released eight CDs and appeared three times at the Przystanek Woodstock festival with the special show in 2003 when more than 400 000 people watched the culmination of what the band refers to as...

  • Composing and designing music with Dizu Plaatjies for the opening of "Turbulence" Salzburg—Red Bull's Hangar
  • 12 concert tour of UK with "African Soul Rebels 2010" playing with Oumou Sangaré
    Oumou Sangaré
    Oumou Sangare is a Malian Wassoulou musician, sometimes referred to as "The Songbird of Wassoulou." Wassoulou is a historic region south of the Niger River, and the music there is descended from traditional hunting songs, and is accompanied by a calabash...

     and Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou
    Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou
    Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou are a band from Benin, which plays Afrobeat, Funk, Soukous and other styles, often based on Vodun ryhtmns. Active since the late 1960s, and having recorded around 500 songs, they are still touring around the world today, playing in venues such as London's Barbican...


Discography

  • Gross National Products cassette (1982)
  • Burning Tractors Keep Us Warm double-single (1983, Pure Freude-Germany)
  • Own Affairs(1984, Recommended
    Recommended Records
    Recommended Records is a British independent record label and distribution network founded by Chris Cutler in March 1978. RēR features largely "Rock in Opposition" and related music, but it also distributes selected music released on other independent labels.In 1982 Cutler established November...

    )
  • Sleep Armed (1987, Recommended)
  • Living in the Heart of the Beast (1986, Recommended)
  • Bigger Than Jesus (Beachbomb in SA) (1989, Recommended/Shifty)
  • End Beginnings (with Lesego Rampolokeng) (1989, Recommended/Shifty)
  • The Eighties Volume 1 (Recommended)
  • The Eighties Volume 2 (Microdot Records)
  • Killing Time with Transsky (1997, tiktikbang)
  • Paralyzer Ghetto Muffin (1999, Milestone)
  • Akasic Record (1999, African Dope)
  • Muti Media (2003, African Dope)
  • Tall Horse (2005, Milestone)
  • Conspiracy of Silence (2005, Microdot)
  • Panga Management (2007, Microdot)
  • One Party State (2010, Microdot)

Compilations

  • Munen Muso 1 (Network 77)
  • The Sound of Dub (Echo Beach)
  • Breathe Sunshine (Amabala)
  • The Mothers Township Sessions (Mr Bongo Recordings)
  • Yehlisan'umoya Ma-Afrika—Urban Zulu Remixes (2000, M.E.L.T.)
  • African Meltdown Volume One - with Greg Hunter
  • The Rough Guide to the Music Of South Africa- Rough Guides
  • Mandela: Son of Africa, Father of a Nation (Island Records OST1997)
  • U KNOW ? Mixes Vol. 1 (2000, M.E.L.T.)
  • U KNOW ? Mixes Vol. 3 (2000, M.E.L.T.)
  • U KNOW ? Mixes Vol. 4 (2000, M.E.L.T.)
  • A Naartjie in our Sosaatie(Shifty)
  • New Africa Rock (Shifty)
  • Forces Favourites (Shifty)
  • Rē Records Quarterly Vol.1 No.1
    ReR Quarterly
    The RēR Quarterly was an English "quarterly" sound-magazine comprising an LP record and a magazine. It was published at irregular intervals between 1985 and 1997 by Recommended Records and November Books, and edited by English percussionist, lyricist and music theorist, Chris Cutler...

     (1985, Recommended
    Recommended Records
    Recommended Records is a British independent record label and distribution network founded by Chris Cutler in March 1978. RēR features largely "Rock in Opposition" and related music, but it also distributes selected music released on other independent labels.In 1982 Cutler established November...

    )
  • RēR Quarterly Vol.4 No.1
    ReR Quarterly
    The RēR Quarterly was an English "quarterly" sound-magazine comprising an LP record and a magazine. It was published at irregular intervals between 1985 and 1997 by Recommended Records and November Books, and edited by English percussionist, lyricist and music theorist, Chris Cutler...

     (1994, Recommended)
  • Art Bears
    Art Bears
    Art Bears were an English avant-rock group formed during the disassembly of Henry Cow in 1978 by three of its members, Chris Cutler , Fred Frith and Dagmar Krause...

    : The Art Box
    The Art Box
    The Art Box is a six-CD box set by English avant-rock group Art Bears. It contains all Art Bears album and single releases, plus new material, including live and unreleased Art Bears tracks, and unreleased remixes and reworkings of Art Bears material by other musicians...

    (2003, Recommended)

External links