October 14, 2018


Filed under: kaganof — ABRAXAS @ 5:40 pm

October 8, 2018


Filed under: kaganof — ABRAXAS @ 9:28 pm

August 29, 2018

a letter from david max brown

Filed under: kaganof — ABRAXAS @ 9:02 am

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August 27, 2018

Linda Thompson – Blue Bleezin Blind Drunk (with lyrics)

Filed under: music — ABRAXAS @ 11:49 am

August 17, 2018

blog post today

Filed under: kaganof — ABRAXAS @ 7:22 pm


July 18, 2018

To Malombo – by Luzuko Elvis Bekwa

Filed under: luzuko elvis bekwa — ABRAXAS @ 5:52 pm

A ceremonial domba
A majestic python dance
Beautiful vhaVenda maidens
Immaculate virgin daughters
Then . The sound of ancient djembe
Coming from DZI THAVHANE clan.
That acoustic timbre of ”Dr Malombo”healing function.
He played his guitar like a mystic guru
Awakening the powers of VADZIMU
they stripped and robbed him of his birth right mind you
And forced him to forget his roots
They who ruled like bunch of thugs
But the Venda ancestral calling
Kept intact in his discipline drumming
The resonance of mabe thobejane
Dr Nchipi Tavhane
The spirit of malombo will keep healing us
And we will always remember you ntate Phillip Tavhane
Ka di kgale ntate
Kea bereka
Hamba kahle Dr Phillip Tavhane

July 15, 2018

Perfect Hlongwane reviews Unathi Slasha’s Jah Hills

Filed under: literature,reviews — ABRAXAS @ 1:56 pm


Filed under: philosophy — ABRAXAS @ 1:50 pm


Filed under: caelan — ABRAXAS @ 1:48 pm


Filed under: literature — ABRAXAS @ 1:45 pm


July 11, 2018


Filed under: kaganof — ABRAXAS @ 2:49 pm

June 27, 2018

Filed under: Boarding Pass — ABRAXAS @ 1:28 pm

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Garth Erasmus text for nege fragmente

Filed under: 2018 - nege fragmente uit ses khoi'npsalms — ABRAXAS @ 10:37 am

Hier op die steiltes sit ek en hou my op hoogte van sake waar ek afkyk op die veldbrand en my hart is in my keel vas. Die stilte is hartroerend mooi soos fynbos en ek wentel afdraend tussen die swart uitgebrande takkies en elke kraak is `n hartslag van verlore verledes, naasbestaandes en blootgesteldes. Die wolke is ook blootgestel aan my aarde. Ek kom tuis maar ek betree `n aasvoël se ekstase. My skoene kry seer en ook die vere van my vlerk. Ek droom soos `n inboorling in sy land sonder `n linkerledemaat. My niere is geskaaf van die drank. My oë is omsingel deur `n bose bende en glinster lemme. My silwer maan is in ballingskap en in eensaamheid soos ek die nag binne tree. Ek onthou my kinderstem skree maar wie gaan my lippe verniel met `n soen?

Jitsvinger – Rapping for transformation

Filed under: afrikaaps — ABRAXAS @ 10:32 am


Filed under: literature — ABRAXAS @ 10:29 am


Metalepsis in Black @national arts festival

Filed under: 2016 - Metalepsis in Black — ABRAXAS @ 10:27 am

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the refrain

Filed under: music — ABRAXAS @ 10:24 am

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Johnny Mbizo Dyani – You Don’t Have To Love Me, I Love You

Filed under: music — ABRAXAS @ 10:22 am

I love you. You don’t have to love me, I love you.
(Johnny Dyani, introduction to Willisau concert, 1978)

The contrabass is a heart. Resonant and wood-warm, it beats at the centre of the ensemble, its dark atrium throbbing with the cyclical rhythm of the ground-bass. Systole and diastole – cut the bass, wait for the drop. Basslines like blood in the veins of time: the bass carries and sends messages across continents, seas and centuries. Beneath the drums and the melody, beneath the song and the solo, it is the bass that holds steady at the tiller: it is the vessel of memory, the bearer of secrets, and its full cup is drawn up from the deepest roots. Before and beneath the bassline lies only the expectant silence of unmarked time, a negative sound space, waiting to be moulded by ostinato or traversed by a walking line. This silence beneath the bassline is the abyss of the past, heavy with distance and dislocation, diaspora and exile. It is the bass that sounds the depth of this abyss, reaching down to articulate deep spaces of loss and suffering, suffusing them with knowledge and healing, laying foundations and providing a direction of travel.

It’s like they say at home, if you want to seek knowledge you go to those guys, they sit in the kraal or whatever and then they be talking and then you ask all these questions, they look at you and say, ‘Are you prepared for this knowledge?’ And you be saying, ‘Ah yes, yeah!’ They say, ‘Are you really prepared, because if you ask you might go crazy, it might not all fit here [points to head] and you go phissh!’ And it’s true because with all that knowledge you gotta be prepared. Your mind, the strength of your mind, your sight, your hearing, your heartbeat, your energy. You have to be prepared to carry all that.
(Johnny Dyani, interview with Aryan Kaganof, 1986)

Johnny Mbizo Dyani sang and played piano before he took up the bass, but it was his bass that brought him from South Africa to Europe. He left his homeland in 1964 with the famous Blue Notes – Dudu Pukwana, Chris McGregor, Mongezi Feza, Louis Moholo and Nikele Moyake ¬–whom he had joined only a few months previously. He was still only a teenager, but he was already carrying all that.

In the decade and a half separating their departure and this 1978 recording, he and his fellow Blue Notes had travelled many roads, both separately and together. After their initial arrival in France, they had spent the second half of the 1960s in London, where they had become incendiary fixtures on the jazz and nascent improvised scene. But by 1969 internal disagreements between them had become insurmountable, and Dyani was prompted to take his leave of Britain. While the rest of the group stayed on in London to found the Brotherhood of Breath, Dyani travelled to the continent, where he settled in Sweden.

From 1969 through to around 1972 he worked extensively with trumpeter Don Cherry and drummer Okay Temiz. He also played regularly with his fellow South African exile, the pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, whose influence encouraged Dyani to convert to Islam. In 1972, he and Okay would be joined in Sweden by Mongezi Feza, with whom they formed a group called Music For Xaba; together the three musicians developed an incredibly close-knit improvising trio that was sundered only by the tragic and premature death of Feza in late 1975. This phase of intense work with Cherry and Temiz seems to have been the catalyst for a step change in Dyani’s practice.

Since the early 1960s, Cherry had been immersing himself in the traditional sound cultures of the world. A nomad and a visionary, his aim was the creation of a global music beyond boundary and genre, and he had used his fluid Organic Music Society formation to open the corridors of musical time and space; for his part, Temiz had brought to this work a fierce virtuosity, and the temporal and rhythmic complexities of the Turkish tradition. The importance of Dyani to Cherry’s search during these years should not be underestimated, for the bassist brought with him an approach to music that was founded in an extraordinarily sophisticated and philosophically complex African reconfiguration of jazz. The same was true of Abdullah Ibrahim; ‘a very important person’, Cherry told Arthur Taylor in 1971, ‘as are his music and melodies’. Jazz in South African had already long understood itself as a critical moment of transnational black becoming, one in which an imported African American musical form had become adopted and transformed into the principal musical vehicle for the expression of specifically South African problems. And jazz musicians and audiences in South Africa were well aware that their music was a proud, vital moment in the continuum of universal sonic kinship and dialogue which Dyani himself later called ‘SKANGA…the Family of Black Music’. Like all the jazz exiles, Dyani and Ibrahim carried this history with them. Cherry understood this, and valued their vision accordingly.

Conversely, the ability to rethink this heritage within the fresh musical, philosophical and spiritual context provided Temiz and Cherry, seems to have allowed Dyani’s own music to come into sharper focus. The three musicians sought to become the cataract for a universal improvising folk music, and here Dyani had a space in which his own tradition could join with the broader river of universal human song. Some film from mid-1971, shot for French television, shows this trio in session, running through material that includes Dollar Brand compositions, Turkish folk tunes, and jazz repertoire. It is intense, joyous music, made by players in vital and profound musical communion.

With the subsequent arrival of Feza and the foundation of Music for Xaba, the project achieved even clearer direction. The two Blue Notes worked with Temiz to open musical capillaries through which the sap of their own folk and social music could rise anew, travelling through and beyond so-called jazz and free music, past the post-war mbaqanga jazz of the township dancehalls, towards marabi – the unrecorded and unwritten urban African piano music of interwar South Africa’s shebeens and slumyards. Here they stood in the very headwaters of modern South African music, where it was closest to its folk and rural sources. ‘They were fine jazz musicians who knew their own folklore very well,’ Temiz recalls. ‘Not all jazz musicians know their own folklore. They knew also the dances, the lyrics and the living styles of their culture. We worked together and built our music around African music.’ ‘I don’t like to call myself a jazz musician,’ Dyani would explain. ‘I rather say folk musician. It’s folk music and we improvise on it.’ Introducing the concert on this disc, we hear the bassist inform his audience that the music he will be playing is marabi.

Oh, I always have to keep tradition. There’s no art or music, paintings or human beings without a tradition… I have to keep a tradition, you know, in order to recognize myself, because when I was born I was born in a tradition, I was taught tradition, how to behave, how to move, how to eat, how to survive, that’s part of the tradition, so the music I’ve heard, I have to keep it with me wherever I’m going, the tradition, it has to be with me whenever I’m going. So that’s what’s giving me my life.
(Johnny Dyani, interview with IB Skovgaard, August 21, 1978)

The session documented here was recorded live at Willisau jazz festival in 1978, at a solo concert given on 2nd September; the following day, Dyani played in trio with David Murray and Andrew Cyrille, a set released by Hat Hut as 3D Family. Xaba had been destroyed by the death of Mongezi Feza in late 1975, but Dyani and Temiz were still working together in various formations that typically went under the title Witchdoctor’s Son, a moniker that Dyani had started to give his groups, his albums, and also himself. There had been rapprochement too with the other Blue Notes; after the incantatory mourning for Feza documented on Blue Notes For Mongezi (Ogun, 1975), they had once more started to record and tour together, and in 1977 they released a quartet album, Blue Notes in Concert Volume 1, also on Harry and Hazel Miller’s Ogun Records. 1978 especially was a flurry of recording activity which saw the bass player appear on several recordings with David Murray, as well as with the Louis Moholo Octet on Spirits Rejoice and, for the first time, with the Brotherhood of Breath on Procession (both titles were released on Ogun). There was also a spiky free set with Philip Wilson and Leo Smith (Fruits, Circle Records), and the first of many outings for Nils Winther’s Steeplechase Records on a session featuring Dudu Pukwana and John Tchicai (Witchdoctor’s Son, Steeplechase). This pace of recording and release would be maintained. Dyani was moving fast, and speeding up.

This record is a previously unreleased live set, recorded through the soundboard by Niklaus Troxler, organiser of the Willisau festival. It is a crucial document of Dyani’s mature work. Though he performed solo concerts such as this one, and often presented long solo stretches on record, no true solo album has ever been issued; only the 1979 recording session released under the title African Bass contains a similar session, with some of the same tunes, though that is a duo with drummer Clifford Jarvis (Red Records, 1980). This solo Willisau set is a demonstration of the total musical vision that Dyani had achieved during the 1970s. It catches him at his most protean and impassioned, shifting from voice to bass and to the rolling piano patterns which are the most direct link to marabi. It is an act of healing, an expression of pain, and a moment of teaching.

I wish you all sunshine
All of the time…
I wish you all some day will understand
The pain my people have to suffer
Johnny Dyani, ‘Wish You Sunshine’

There is no unpolitical music, and there is certainly no unpolitical South African music. Though the music of the exiles was never limited to being a function or vehicle of politics in the overt sense, it could take a directly political role, and often did. Like the music of his fellow exiles, Dyani’s music making was always expressive of the political and personal realities that black South Africans lived and suffered under apartheid and in exile. But of all the Blue Notes, Dyani’s music was the most anguished, the most suffused with pain and transported by joy; it is music of healing and second sight, and it is strong medicine. Through bass, voice and piano, Dyani sought to conduct the memorial sound-power of his tradition and his people, channelling a furious but warm avant-marabi that would give voice to the enormity of the historic crime black South Africa had suffered, and the totality of the African response to this wound – a response that was psychic, sonic, cultural and political. His music is a radiant flood of bitterness and anger, love and magic: all of the man, in his numerous contradictions and idiosyncrasies, tumbling forth as a natural music that had never been heard on earth. Within it sounds the voice of the elders that sit in the kraal, amplified and booming from the black interior chamber of Dyani’s instrument. The unique tone he drew from his bass – loud, resonant, humming with dry warmth and depth of feeling – is instantly recognisable, and electrifies any session on which he appears. It was Dyani’s alone: the prophetic sound of an African bass.

The contrabass is a heart, and it emanates love. Bass is balm for spiritual wounds. It reassures, and holds the song steady; it moulds silence and time like clay, creating anchors and foundations, dispensing generous wisdom. It envelops and enfolds, cushions and comforts. It is maternal – the bassline speaks of the filtered sounds heard before birth, the muffled voices of those who have come into the world before us, and the double kick drum thump of the mother’s life-pulse. Dyani was beyond needing confirmation from an audience. He was there to give, and his message was drawn from greater sources, whose energies he amplified and focussed. Not just maternal bass wisdom, but grand-maternal: a grandmother’s teaching, and an unconditional love. You don’t have to love me, I love you.

Francis Gooding, June 2017

Quotations from Johnny Dyani taken from the following sources:
Aryan Kaganof, The Forest and The Zoo: An Interview with Johnny ‘Mbizo’ Dyani (Chimurenga Magazine, 2010)
Interviews with IB Skovgaard (1978) and with Jürg Solothurnmann (1983) in Lars Rasmussen ed., Mbizo: A Book About Johnny Dyani (Booktrader 2003)
Okay Temiz quotation taken from interview with the author, May 2017
Don Cherry quotation taken from Arthur Taylor, Notes and Tones: Musician to Musician Interviews (Da Capo, 1993)
With thanks to Karl-Jonas Winqvist, Okay Temiz and Noah Angell.

June 20, 2018

Medea, falling… a poor image reconstruction

Filed under: nicola deane — ABRAXAS @ 2:36 pm

Suddenly I’m falling,
I’m falling upright,
I’m falling upright…
It’s in space…
the complete feeling of space and nothingness,
not quickly, but I am definitely going down, down, down, and I know that nothing, nothing can stop me,
but I try sometimes to think in myself,
well this is lovely you should be enjoying this
but I’m so panic-stricken,
I know this is the end and I’m finished,
I’m just sinking,
sinking into this great black void,
I see no clouds at all…


I was falling through this water,
it was all around me this water and I didn’t like it,
and I was falling, I’ve got my legs in the air and my hands out,
it was all around me this water and I didn’t like it,
I’ve got my legs in the air and my hands out and my arms outstretched and suddenly all this water became full of other people and other things all falling,
full of other people and other things all falling,
and chairs and tables and things like this,
and all these people were all floating downwards through this water,
all going downwards the same as I was,
people like me with their arms outstretched and their legs,
all going downwards the same as I was and chairs and tables and things like this,
and all these people were floating downwards through this water,
people like me with their arms outstretched and their legs,
and I put my arms out and tried to catch hold of them,
and I tried to catch hold of them…

All I can remember is falling into the water and it was very dark and very deep… All floating downwards through this water, all going downwards the same as I was, sinking, sinking into this great black void… Reeling down into a sort of chasm, reeling down into, into a sort of great big hole… It was a long way down, it was a long way down…and I felt myself falling…it was a long way down but I couldn’t do anything about it… I fell off the edge of the mountain, and it was very dark… seemed to go down and down and down, seemed to go down and down and down…it was a long way down but I couldn’t do anything about it, it was very dark and very deep, it was very dark and very deep, seemed to go down and down and down, seemed to go down and down and down… I’m falling upright, and I’m finished I’m just sinking, sinking into this great black void… I see no clouds at all… It’s in space, a complete feeling of space and nothingness, everything goes black and I fall and fall and fall, and I know that if I don’t pull myself up, if I don’t forcibly stop myself I’ll die if I reach the bottom, so I make a tremendous effort to stop myself, I must stop myself doing this, I jump in the air, and there’s a great big jump, and then I stop dying… The complete feeling of space and nothingness… I see no clouds at all…[1]

June 19, 2018

with John Akomfrah at FESPACO

Filed under: 1995 - nice to meet you, please don't rape me! — ABRAXAS @ 10:55 am

It was 1995. I had the first South African feature film to play at FESPACO, Nice To Meet You Please Don’t Rape Me!

South African films had been under boycot until the first democratic elections were held (in 1994) and so the 1995 iteration of the festival was finally screening SA work.

Unfortunately my film wasn’t to the taste of the Burkinabé audience.

I had met John Akomfrah a few days before my screening when we both arrived at our hotel only to find that we had no rooms booked. I was very shy and had no idea how to deal with the situation. John was a more seasoned festival goer than I, and certainly not shy. He made a terrible fuss, which came as a complete surprise because in the taxi on the way from the airport he had struck me as the most amiable person. When the keys to our rooms were sorted he gave me a mischievous wink and whispered “You have to know how to act to get things done here.”

Days later, in the packed cinema, sitting next to John for the premiere of my film, I was astonished as hundreds, literally, hundreds, almost all of the audience, stormed out of the film, ululating their shock and outrage. By the end of the screening there were about thirty of us left in the gigantic, now cavernous, echoing vast cinema hall. John was immensely consoling, he leaned over and hugged me and gently said, “Your film’s a classic but this kind of avant-garde hasn’t been made here yet, people don’t know how to handle it. It will take time.”

The audience reception really did take me by surprise. I met John again at an African film festival in Switzerland and he had great fun regaling the dinner party with the tale of how 800 people ran out screaming from this crazy film. I had walkouts again, it’s true, but never so many.

June 17, 2018

Beyond Ultra Violence: Uneasy Listening By Merzbow

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first published here: http://v.qq.com/detail/s/sdp001rmuykozpu.html

Medusa rising

Filed under: helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 10:41 am


I came across the story of Medusa while researching a piece of ceramic work. I was shocked at the inherent patriarchal nature of the Greek Myths and had never been struck so clearly!

Of course I have encountered these myths before, but the inherent patriarchal bias never occurred to me within this new-found context.

Recent shifting global dynamics and sweeping revelations of shockingly distorted narratives written to favour and hence legitimise unfair power games of ‘victors’ gave me a new context from which to review the Medusa myth in particular.

I felt that Medusa had been wronged and that her decapitation and her demonisation was NO VICTORY but a ruthless slaughter of ‘the feminine’.

I also felt that her punishment for being raped was vindictive and based on jealous revenge and perhaps has some link to the reason why some cultures stone women who have been raped.

Having being raped by Poseidon (to whom Athena was attracted) and then having being punished for desecrating her temple (no accountability for Poseidon of course) is an OUTRAGE to a non patriarchal paradigm!! Period.

I feel we are living in a time when ALL PREVIOUS PATRIACHAL NARRATIVES whether religious, political, philosophical, need to undergo reassessment as they have distorted and twisted humanitarian interactive narratives.

Having myself survived a traumatic childhood of victimisation and bullying, and being ripe for degeneration into drug addiction and possible suicide, I had to re-investigate my childhood from a completely rationalised perspective to try and understand my dynamics and to reassess my context, if I was to emerge as a rational adult not hell bent on buying into the patriarchal mind set and making everyone else suffer!!

This of course has become the story of my life and some aspect of this is covered in my novel “TELL TALE”.

ART and self expression, reading and research became a guiding tool through which I was to negotiate my healing.

In order to heal I had to forego the dominant patriarchal paradigm as all it afforded was victimisation and punishment. Clearly this was not for me.

The point here is that if I could discover a healing process which had worked (by and large) for me, then why not apply this reassessment to patriarchal outmoded paradigms which everyone takes for granted, yet no longer serves new perspectives in this rapidly changing world?

We cannot continue under this guise any longer as the world demands a more equitable and harmonious interaction.

Hence Medusa Rising.

Within the knowledge of her mistreatment and placing a clear equitable gaze at her mis-punishment, and realising how patriarchal narratives have brought about suffering and domination which is becoming more and more insane as evidenced in global and domestic dynamics, the Medusa myth is ripe for creative re-investigaton.

We therefore need to understand by beginning with the realisation that her slaying was an act of COWARDICE and is not in the least bit ‘heroic’.

In short:

Medusa had been raped in Athena’s temple ((for her beauty)) and then punished by turning her skin greenish and head of snakes by Athena. Any man who looked into her eyes in fear was turned to stone.

The reason why I claim the slaying was NOT an act of heroism is that Perseus (her slayer) could not overcome her gaze and used trickery (the mirror) to slay her. He is thus seen as having OUTWITTED her and hence the victor. That is a specifically patriarchal interpretation.

She was tricked into decapitation -her head becoming a potent weapon- and her slayer declared a hero.

This narrative is RIDDLED with patriarchal fear….and distorted with with patriarchal presumption.

Medusa in my painting is thus depicted as ‘rising’ as she is rightfully angry as she reclaims her power i.e. her gaze, while at the same time being in indignation of her mythological (i.e. past) treatment.

I have depicted her with dreadlocks (which of course can still be interpreted as snakes) to modernise the myth.

June 16, 2018

Mphutlane wa Bofelo on writing

Filed under: literature,mphutlane wa bofelo — ABRAXAS @ 4:11 pm

“As much as a finished piece of writing leads to immense satisfaction and is self-,fulfilling , the uncertainty about what the output of writing will be and the amount of time and dedication required to write work that stands the test of time, makes writing a tough and daunting work. The first barrier to writing is the inner critic, the voice within that keeps telling you that you can’t write or keep raising doubts and questions about the correctness of your writing, the cynical voice that keeps pointing you towards the rules of language and grammar and the complexities of literature , telling you that you just cannot put up with the rigorous process and demands of writing ‘proper’ literature.”
Mphutlane wa Bofelo

Gertrude Stein on masterpieces

Filed under: literature — ABRAXAS @ 3:57 pm

A true creator of a masterpiece is indifferent to an audience and their response. They believe in their masterpiece. This belief dominates the creative process.
Gertrude Stein
What are masterpieces and why are there so few of them?

Cicero on The Nature of the gods

Filed under: dick tuinder,literature,philosophy — ABRAXAS @ 3:37 pm


Dear Aryan,

The Romans saw their gods mainly as a philosophical concept.
They where however notorius for their superstition.
Outflanking in that department possibly even the Egyptians.
The core of their emotional religiosity was not Jupiter and his droogs,
but the house and the city they inhabited and the forefathers that had built it.
The gods in those days were like popsongs, that you could cover
or do a karaoke of to your own local liking.
The true bonds were with the older blood. The connection to the line that
went back to the foundation of the city, in which centre was the hearth, an eternal
burning flame, keeping the ancestors alive.
This is the main reason why in classical wars in those areas the destruction of besieged cities
was so complete and the murdering and enslaving of its inhabitants so ruthless.
The thought maybe being that you could not really conquer a foe
without strangling its ancestors by putting out the fire.

The second most sacred element of the city where its borders.
They were the dominion of a godlike entity whose name currently has flet over
the border of my memory.

Nowadays Cicero would not be a name one instinctively associates
with the advocacy, but rather with that of a datahandling company or an equity fund.
Cicero, to be fair, was all of these things.

I will write you soon with more contemporary news,

Much love


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