Die Mystic Boer saal weer op…..vir die vinyl junkies!

 

I normally write in English because I’m more comfortable with the language. No other reason. But today – on Freedom Day – I’m writing in both English and Afrikaans. A peaceful protest against those who think they own Afrikaans rock artists and have the right to threaten them just because they don’t support their way of thinking. Not in my name. Not in our name. Most of these artists just want to do what they do best. Entertain us!                

Valiant_1Lank, lank gelede “in ‘n ander, ander tyd” en in ‘n ander wêreld het my paaie gekruis met iets so magies dat dit my lewe onmiskenbaar verander het. Dit was ‘n koue reënerige dag iewers in Desember 1993 in Nature’s Valley. Ek was skaars sewentien. Van my boesemvriende het my voorgestel aan ‘n paar van hulle studentevriende. Grootmenskinders met volksvreemde idees en musieksmake. Dit was so reg in my kraal…..

My eerste besoek aan die weggesteekte klein vakansie dorpie naby Plettenbergbaai in die Wes-Kaap was uiteraard iets so reg uit ‘n jeugverhaal, maar met ‘n nineties twist. En die nineties was twisted….Die een bra se ouers het hulle garage omskep in ‘n ekstra buitekamer. Dit was perfek vir al sy gabbas wat eksotiese rookgewoontes gehad het. Die pad na die garage was mistig en eteries. Almal wat daar gechill het was baie “rustig” en “filosofies”…Ha! Na almal mekaar ontmoet het, steek ek ‘n Camel Filter aan. So half onhandig maar met ‘n cool wannabe houding. Iemand het intussen, so deur al die slim praatjies, ‘n kasset in die kassetspeler ingesit. Die garage was donker en die rook en reën het die hele ervaring ‘n mistieke Tolkien charm gegee.

Eldorado het begin speel en my aandag was heeltemaal afgetrek van die gesprekke – wat al hoe meer filosofies begin raak het. “Is dit Dire Straits?” vra ek asof ek Chris Prior is. “Dis Valiant Swart” word ek kalm reggehelp. As ek nou terugdink het alles net te veel sin gemaak. Die planete het op ‘n ongewone wyse inlyn beweeg. Ek het daai dag iets gehoor wat ek nooit sal vergeet nie. Die Mystic Boer demo. Dit was net te cool om Afrikaans te wees. Net daar en dan het ek ‘n “bluesboer” geword. En Jirre tot vandag “is die blues my bloedbroer”.

To explain the effect of Valiant Swart’s music on my generation, during those early years, to someone who never listened to the music with their friends, never debated the deeper meaning of the lyrics with Mary Jane and never saw him live….may be slightly difficult. But I’ll try my level best. The local Afrikaans ‘Nirvana’ generation were also beneficiaries of the Voëlvry movement. Because of these pioneers we could – for the first time and very comfortably – call ourselves alternative Afrikaners. It gave us our own identity. A breakaway from our dark past and made it easier to connect with different races and to make black friends. But we certainly weren’t spoiled for choice in that genre. We played poor sounding cassettes recorded on a shoestring budget by artists such as Koos Kombuis and Valiant Swart. Johannes Kerkorrel released CD’s already in the early nineties, and some of us may have ventured into the past and had a taste for well known Afrikaans recording artists such as Anton Goosen and David Kramer. Valiant Swart appeared on the scene out of nowhere and we embraced his music as mystical rock and roll poetry. Unlike many other alternative Afrikaans artists his music wasn’t political at all. Musically his early stuff made me think of a cross between Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones and Dire Straits. A blend of blues, folk and country rock. But it was in Afrikaans and it was distinctively South African. His harmonica and some of the riffs sound like Africanised boeremusiek on those early recordings. This kind of music was a strange thing to hear in 1993, let me tell you. Those of us who “got it” back in the day became lifelong fans and we never stopped listening.

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Die Mystic Boer demo was ‘n opname wat Valiant by sy gigs verkoop het in die vroeë negentigs. Slegs vier van die songs op die demo kasset was ingesluit in die 1996 Die Mystic Boer album(of CD): Eldorado, Die Mystic Boer,Ware Liefde en Slangdans. Die res was later opgeneem op Kopskoot en Boland Punk. Behalwe een song. En hier is vir julle bietjie blues lore. Een van my gunsteling Valiant songs is Bloed (Die wind waai waarskynlik in Worcester) wat nooit offisieël opgeneem is op ‘n album nie. Ek het Valiant dit laas in 1999 live hoor speel.

Jis, ons het daai kasset faktap geluister vir meer as drie jaar en dit was op die speellys by elke party. Toe Die Mystic Boer op CD uitgereik is was ons hardcore fans redelik skepties. Audiophiles kla vandag oor die klank van die CD maar vir ons was daai album se klank TE goed. Ons was so gewoond aan die swak klank kwaliteit van die demo, Valiant se Boland aksent en Anton L’ Amour se distinct riffs dat dit ‘n ruk gevat het om gewoond te raak aan die Mystic Boer CD. En ek bedoel nie die CD was musikaal minder awesome nie. Dit was next level. Ons was net te gewoond aan die demo. Dit was helemaal anders. Maar dit was nie lank nie of die CD was deel van ons studentelewens en is kliphard gespeel in al wie ‘n fan was se motor. Net op CD spelers in plaas van kassetspelers natuurlik. Dit was steeds agtergrond musiek vir filosofiese gesprekke in mistieke rookgevulde kamers….

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So fast forward to 2014. Great Afrikaans rock music is still hard to find if you’re a music collector. You certainly won’t find it on the radio or television that’s for damn sure. Very few CD shops stock these gems and it’s even difficult (sometimes impossible) to find CD’s of new local bands on the internet. You can find the CD’s at gigs and download the artists’ music on the internet (iTunes etc). But try to find the old stuff and you’ll have to approach the online second hand market. Unfortunately, you may or may not find what you’re looking for.

And then there are those who exist almost exclusively for the black circle heroin. They are a breed of their own. I like to call them vinyl junkies (I’m not one of them, I assure you). Benjy Mudie – in all probability – coined the phrase but I can’t think of any better way to describe them. They all have fucking “dragon sickness”. By now you can tell I love Tolkien…but I digress. Who would have thought that vinyl would make so many people happy (again) in this day and age? The creators of Beyond 2000 must be scratching their heads in amazement. ‘Die Mystic Boer’ on vinyl for the first time? Almost two decades after its original release? Who’s crazy idea was that? Vinyl junkies (I’m not one, I swear) can thank the dudes at Cow Africa Advertising Agency. They were joking around with the idea one day and before they knew it, it became a reality. Donald Swanepoel (Deluxe 3000) and Charles Miller (Chopper Charlie) created the record label ‘Verspeelde Lente’ under which name The Mystic Boer vinyl was pressed. I remember Charles from Varsity and a legendary place called Shaft where creatures of the night drank their beer and got their kicks. But these dudes are more wellknown these days for being part of creating the website WAT KYK JY? If you haven’t heard of it you need to get a life.

Rouleaux Van der Merwe (vinyl junkies will know him from Permanent Record) worked with Valiant to redesign the artwork and included some real vintage photos on the inner sleeve. Jeez, I love the fact that there’s lyrics on it. You can slide it out and get nostalgic and totally lose yourself in the words while the black heroin spins. Is dit net ek of was hulle idee glad nie tos nie? Drum roll…crickets in the night. Anyway, Valiant Swart got on board and the rest is history.

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Man, passion projects are the shit! It makes you forget about the cold hard reality of the music industry for a while. Something I don’t even want to be part of. I discussed the whole vinyl resurgence with Valiant at a recent gig at the Cockpit Brewhouse in Cullinan and it’s clear to me that he loves the format. I mean the man loves music first and foremost. But he gets the difference in sound, the sentiment and the ritual. Thank the rock and roll gods he’s not a vinyl junkie. We all know he would never get to writing a single song if that was the case. But what is his favourite music on vinyl? Rolling Stones of course. Sitting down with his son Robert and taking in the good stuff!

Here’s some more blues lore. There’s no pressing plant in SA anymore so the vinyl was pressed and the cover and inner sleeve printed in the UK. But there was a misprint on the inner sleeve in respect of the lyrics. Maybe because it’s in Afrikaans? Who knows? But only one or two people have a copy of the misprinted vinyl. And the serious collectors are going insane right about now…

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I’ve been listening to the demo for almost 22 years. I’ve been listening to 1996 CD for 19 years (give or take), so my opinion on the sound may be seriously prejudiced. I’m not an audiophile but according to Valiant Swart the album was recorded with analog equipment by Willem Möller (Gereformeerde Blues Band,Big Sky and Searching for Sugarman) in 1995. ‘Verspeelde Lente’ did not remaster the tapes but certain sound levels were adjusted to improve the sound. Just so the audiophiles wouldn’t loose their shit. But it sounds great to me. What do I know anyway? I do know that if you want a copy you better move fast. Only five hundred were pressed. And if the vinyl sells well,Valiant may consider pressing ‘Dorpstraat Revisited’ next. Now there’s an album that is just begging to be pressed on vinyl……

In 1993 in daai donker mistieke garage het een van die wyse studente iets kwytgeraak wat my altyd sal bybly. Op die demo was Die Mystic Boer die tweede song op die kasset- net na Eldorado. Terwyl die song gespeel het en na diep bepeinsing het iemand uit die bloute gevra: “Ek wonder hoe Valiant geweet het dat die grond na sout gesmaak het?”. Dit was iets wat my gepla het vir bykans twee dekades. Ek het Valiant onlangs daaroor uitgevra by Cockpit Brewhouse en ons het lekker gelag. Hy kon my nie antwoord nie. Dit is obvious dat baie van sy lirieke beslis nie letterlik opgeneem moet word nie. Die mistiek van songs soos Die Mystic Boer sal altyd behoue bly want nie eens Valiant weet waar die lirieke vandaan kom nie. Hy sê dit baie, maar ek kon dit nog nooit helemaal verstaan nie. Die musiek en woorde bestaan voor hy dit skryf en “float rond in die lug”. Ek reken Die Mystic Boer het net die gawe om die songs te vang en vir ons op te tower sodat ons dit kan verstaan. So elkeen op ons eie manier.

Dankie Valiant en almal wat deel was van die projek!

 

Vir verdere navrae kontak Rouleaux van der Merwe by info@permanentrecord.co.za.

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