Psychedelic boere-punk trailblazers, Karel Bester en die Kraaines Band, have made their recording debut with a raucous live set from the smoke-stained bowels of Aandklas in Stellenbosch. Released on 29 September, it’s a reckless, high-energy romp that parties until it passes out, head spinning with dreams of dirty deeds. 

The live format suits the band’s sound perfectly. Deftly-mixed cheers and screams give Live & F*cked By Aandklas the communal atmosphere it deserves, pushing the listener right up against the stage with the friendly bodies of the audience jostling at their back.

It’s an album that’s experimental in all the right ways. Strap in.

Kat en Die Muis

Sitting in the middle of five frenetic, full-throttle tracks packed to the nostrils with dirty licks, ‘Kat en Die Muis’ still manages to stand out. Seductive and anthemic, it features driving, sexy bass and the catchiest vocals of the album.

Karel Bester and Jeandré Swanepoel are a ferocious tag-team lead throughout the album. Both men show off serious fist-pumping, throat-straining vocals, like Karel’s closing chorus in this song and Jeandré’s distorted, unhinged solo before the final stretch of ‘Boerebal’.  ‘Kat en Die Muis’ is one of the most infectious examples of their back and forth – you can taste the sweat dripping off the gritty backing vocals and animalistic breathing.

Karel Bester end Die Kraaines Band
[Bass is never in the background with Marius Vercuiel on duty. PHOTO: Shutterbug]

Agter Die Bar

‘Agter Die Bar’ is a heartfelt ode to our bartenders, who drown themselves to keep our drinks full. It’s a number that Karel had sung for some time in his solo career. And while it lends itself to the sound of a man alone with his guitar, the backing of a full band gives it a grandiose energy that brings the best out of its sentimental waltz.

Performing and recording the song at Aandklas no doubt also forms an interesting full circle for Jeandré and Karel, who have both worked behind its bar and can now return to “treur vir die staff soos hul skink aanhou bly”.

Onkruid

Following the tender, introspective ‘Die Denker’ and crowd-winning ‘Oppieplass’ we get ‘Onkruid’ – an eleven-minute kaleidoscopic journey played as Die Kraaines’ big live closer.

It draws you into its universe right out of the gate, driven forward by jangly guitar over Karel’s distant crowd talk. Serious props are due to Justin Versfeld for the recording and mixing – the atmosphere throughout the album feels cohesive and without compromise.

Achieving that is already a challenge in-studio, so crafting such a compelling sound for a live set is laudable.

Karel Bester end Die Kraaines Band
[ LEFT: Jeandré Swanepoel was born for the spotlight. PHOTO: Shutterbug, edit by James Browning.]

Hanno Jansen van Vuren‘s trademark hat behind the drum kit will be familiar to anyone following Cape Town’s psych scene, and ‘Onkruid’ makes sure not to squander his chops. The sticks and snares get their chance to shine in a drum-led transition before the band heads into the home straight, egged on by hoots from the crowd.

As always, the backing vocals come in at just the right time to infuse a killer riff with yearning emotion. There’s just such an infectious sense of musicality and feeling to Jeandre’s interjections, which contributes a great deal to Die Kraaines’ charm. 

It’s hard not to hear the cheeky smile in Karel’s voice during his closing remarks. That satisfaction is earned – Live & F*cked By Aandklas is a confident, endearing debut that will be resonating in the hearts of local listeners for some time.

Ons sê baie, baie dankie.

Author

​​I write about the tech sector in hopes we can find human-centred alternatives to the mess we’ve made for ourselves. I get involved in the music scene because leaving passion unpursued is a sin. When my feet aren’t busy on the sokkie floor, you can find me chasing silver linings.

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