Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Bushmen of the Kalahari - modern trance

I speak quite often about South African artists going back to their roots when creating a new generation of music. We have the perfect country to be able to develop this new style - where the old lives so close to the modern way of life.

Robert Trunz, from MELT, and Pops Mohamed went
with Dick Jewel & Norma Fletcher to the Kalahari in 1995, to record the and film !Ngube, Anna, and Marcela Goute. This family of San/ Bushmen/ Hottentot/ Khoi-Khoi or Khoi-san still practice a trance-dance that goes back to the first memories of their culture, making this the oldest form of trance music in the world! And the result was the first CD, Bushmen of the Kalahari (BW2128) presented by Pops.

!Ngube (no, that is not a typo!) plays an instrument called the //gwashi (once again, not a typo, I'm trying to write in San!). The one he plays in the little video I am featuring, he had been playing every day for the past 10 years. His previous //gwashi, which he'd played every day for 25 years, was broken when somebody stood on it... Damn - he must have been angry!

MELT has also released a revved up version of this primitive sounding music, in a much slicker and up-to-date versions of SanScapes One - Bushmen of the Kalahari Remixes (ELMSA8037CD) & SanSacapes V2 - Future Visions of the Bushmen (MZA001). Modern trance with DJ's filling in the gaps with electronic beats.

There was some criticism - plundering sacred music for evil dance music hedonism - but as Phil Meadley explains in the cover, "The idea was to promote the Bushmen through modern dance music so that younger generations would have a gateway with which to cross the cultural divide."

Which is why I feel we are so lucky in this part of Africa; we have the sounds man first danced to, right in our own backyard!

Here is a little piece I have put together with footage taken by Dick Jewel & Norma Fletcher in the Kalahari on 1995, and an interview filmed by Garth Meyer in 2005. Enjoy.

Go out and get a copy of these CD's - proceeds from sales assist W.I.M.S.A. (Working Group for Indigenous Minorities of Southern Africa) who is trying to protect a culture that should be classed as a World Treasure!

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