Silent Night / Stille Nag by Johannes Kerkorrel and the Kalaharisurfers

During the turbulence and noise of the late Johannesburg 80’s I had a notion to do a very strongly atmospheric/satirical Christmas Carols Album using the artists from the Shifty label. A sort of political Christmas skeefness. The idea was that these tunes from our own sensibility would provide us with a background music that shops could play to replace the BonyM albums each year … and also to have a bit of fun subverting the well worn old melodies. Ralph here gave such a great performance that I felt it was too good for satire. Its real Christmas in teargas city. You can almost feel the melancholia we felt each year living in the shadow of the beast….so here we are something for the shocking stocking
merry chrysalis
Warrick Sony



This patchwork of poetry, anti-establishment rants, kewl tunes and other madness is best described by briefly quoting the liner notes. Above the list of people not allowed to listen to this album and alongside a copy of the 1997 semi-unbanning letter from the Publications Board, is this sentence: ” ‘Die Saai Lewe’ is nie ‘n konvensionele pop- of rockalbum nie. Dit is ‘n psigedeliese soap opera in negentien episodes”. Says it all, but what does it sound like? It’s certainly not conventional rock but it has a rich and deep (sometimes gloomy) presence. One of those albums for rainy nights, candles, red wine, and that new bankie.

The album’s basic theme reflects its creator Theunis Engelbrecht’s alienation from the Afrikaaner way of life in the ’80s and early ’90s. He also preffered adding music and “soundscapes” to his poetry instead of publishing them for students and academics, a similar situation that pushed Koos Kombuis into his musical career. Here, in tandem with guitar and studio guru Willem Moller, Engelbrecht touches on a wide selection of styles (blues, rock ‘n roll, folk) and a strange brew of sounds and samples to create one of the most original, absorbing and enjoyable SA albums of the nineties. Ruben Samuels (drums) and Hanepoot van Tonder (trombone) played on some of the tracks and Spiral Staircase, a band from Pretoria, worked on the four new tracks added here. Songs? I’m not even going to mention or describe any specific songs, it would do this “konsept’ album a disservice and spoil the surprise. ‘Die Saai Lewe’ is a 19-song, old and new South African album that will stay fresh, interesting and cool for a long time, and that’s a cold fact.

Stephen “Sugar” Segerman 8/10


released 01 January 1989