Van Coke Kartel: Wie’s Bang
Only the very best bands can effortlessly blend the raw, angry veneer of powerful rock ’n roll with the complexity of a true artistic and philosophical depth. On this, their fourth album, Van Coke Kartel earn the right to command our respect. We have become accustomed to singer Francois van Coke living out a grainy black-and-white movie of our spiralling rock-star fantasies, but, in truth, that was never going to be enough of a cliché to hold his talent. On almost every song the band spits out desperately angry, incisive takes on life as it is, as it was and as it can never be.
But there are moments of spare beauty, such as the elegiac, lilting ballad Tot die Son Uitkom, which sits well on my playlist next to Skadu’s teen die Muur, the Koos du Plessis cover from 2010’s Skop, Skiet en Donner. If there is a weak moment, it is the last song, Chaos, a collaboration with the seemingly ubiquitous Jack Parow. This is not because of any fault of Parow’s, who spits out a masterful rap that seems entirely heartfelt and emotive. It is just that the rest of the album is so much about Van Coke’s hard-come-by maturity and about a grim energy that becomes beautiful. Hip-hop’s cadenced rebellion is not messy enough for this rock ’n roll gem.
WIE’S BANG / Van Coke Kartel / (Rhythm Records)
(First published in the Mail & Guardian, March 23 2012) — Visit the Van Coke Kartel website.