January 01, 1970

(Secretly Canadian)



Among the many profound disappointments
felt during this year’s World Cup – really Argentina?
– one of the most puzzling to me was the complete absence of the BLK JKS from
all those musical beds used by the TV networks. Occasionally, one might hear
Shakira’s loony “Waka Waka” (the Cup’s official song) or K’naan’s “Wavin’ Flag”
(the Cup’s, uh, other official song), but more often than not, the only music
to accompany the 2010 matches was some sub-Lion
, “African”-sounding stock music or the incessant, B-flat droning of



The flashing brilliance of the latest BLK
JKS EP, however, would have been much more appropriate. Maintaining the group’s
ability to weave the percussive and structural elements of the music of their
South African home with a fiery streak of experimental independence, ZOL! represents everything the folks at
FIFA want to project with the World Cup – a heritage-rich and forward-looking
combination of race-blindness and home-country pride. And shit, if there’s a
better stadium chant than “ZOL!” I have yet to hear it. (If, of course, your
local stadium loves anthems about getting high.)



But that’s not where this EP begins and
ends; BLK JKS are such a joy to listen to because they’re constantly surprising
and completely discontent with being “that South African indie rock band.”
There’s absolutely no way to expect a track like “Paradise,” which mushes
together waves of Crimson-esque guitar squall, shuffle-jazz vocal lines, and
brutal, arrhythmic drumming to great effect. That the band alights on moments
like this in their explosive and improvisational live shows is a big reason
why, even on the six songs here (one of which is a demo), there’s a feeling of
intense discovery and organic innovation. Sure, there are those occasional
“African”-sounding rhythms, but there’s a whole lot more too, and if those
World Cup organizers wanted to paint a picture out of something more realistic
than elephants and schoolchildren, they couldn’t have done much better than
looking at the BLK JKS. 






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