Anton Krueger - 2011-07-14 Untitled Document
Musicians: Anton Goudsmit (guitar), Efraïm Trujillo (sax), Jeroen Vierdag (bass) and Kristijan Krajncan (drums)
Duration: 70 minutes
Given that all I know about jazz is that Hitler banned it and that I quite like Art Blakey’s buzz roll, I was perhaps an odd choice to review this hot Dutch act. Nevertheless, due to there being too few hands on deck, and my penchant for instinctively nodding whenever anybody speaks to me, I somehow ended up with the commission.
As things went, it turned into a peculiarly musical Friday, starting off with a gleefully boisterous recital by a group of AmaMphondo at the ILAM Amphitheatre. The trance-like loops and repetitions made me wonder if this was the sort of music which had influenced the minimalists. Then I bumped into my friend Luis who was on his way to the music conference happening at the Barratt Hall. So I went along and listened to a few lectures about Chinese rap and yodelling lesbian twins from New Zealand. After that, things took a turn for the stranger.
We tried to set up a gig for Luis at the Long Table, but while he was changing the battery on his guitar pick-up, the Maccaferri unit fell into the body of his instrument. And then we lost the screwdriver. So I stood around drinking whisky and shrugging for about an hour while Luis fished about inside his guitar and Alysha retraced her steps to the ATM to see if she hadn’t maybe dropped the screwdriver somewhere.
Eventually I got to the DSG Hall and had another whisky while an organ player from Pietermaritzburg flirted with me, telling me he likes my poems.
Glancing around I quickly realised that the jazz fest crowd are different. There was nobody I recognised at all. It was like a whole separate festival had been going on here. Where had all these people been hiding while I’d been at the theatre for the past few days?
At last I was inside the building and The Ploctones picked up their instruments. As soon as they’d hurled the audience into the first few bars of their rip-roaring opening number (“Kont”) I realised I was in trouble and that even moderate to fairly sharpish Cue readers were very quickly going to realise that I hadn’t the faintest idea what the bejesus I was talking about.
At first I thought I might try to bluff my way through with clever quotes about writing on music being like singing about economics; and comparisons between architecture and dancing, and so on. Another desperate measure was to ransack my bleeding brain for metaphors of what the music was doing to me (for example: it was like balancing a medium-sized Zen Garden on top of the Cheops Pyramid and then neatly tipping it sideways so that a small avalanche of beautifully smooth stones and sand slides down the side until it ultimately mingles with the changeless desert sands of the Sahara below; or: at times the sounds moving through my body felt like a compact swarm of bees in search of their missing queen, while other phrases felt as though the notes had gathered together like a weathered, yet disciplined, flock of swallows making their way home for the summer).
See what I mean? Eventually I gave up and just sat back and enjoyed the show, which turned out to be a varied bag of jaunty ensemble works, with a couple of more bluesy numbers thrown in. I was really glad I got to see The Ploctones, even if getting to see them meant doing them the disservice of this poor review. In fact, I would like hereby to apologise publicly to the plucky Ploctones for not having been able to write more appropriately about their music.
Okay ... let me try one last time: Between telling jokes about leopards and politicians, guitarist Anton Goudsmit made his guitar sound like it was being played on a distant lunar surface (and not our familiar satellite either, but more likely one orbiting Saturn, possibly Hyperion) before it came crashing down in a nasty landslide of distorted mayhem; while the wiry Efraim Trujillo joyfully ate up his saxophone and shouted. The Ploctone who really stood out for me, though, was their new drummer, Kristijan Krajncan, from Slovenia. He was pretty impressive. Come to think of it, he might have been even faster than Art Blakey. I’m pretty sure Hitler would have banned him.
The Ploctones had only one show, but the musicians from the quartet will be joining other bands as guest artists in the upcoming line-up of the Jazz Festival.