by Jon Savage
I bought this rekkid during the crowd-funding campaign for the first new Fokofpolisekar album in over 10 years, not knowing – yet not surprised – that the campaign would go on to smash all the SA crowd-funding records into shards of speckled heroine-and-blood-infused dust.
It was impressive but no surprise that when they tried to raise approximately R500 000 for their new album, they not only surpassed their goal by double (reaching over 1 million rand in 9 days!), but also inadvertently put the crowdfunding platform, Thundafund – and by extension, crowdfunding in South Africa – onto the map! In an industry where everyone is vying for social attention, Fokof still have indomitable social power and a die-hard fan base.
If it’s possible that you are not familiar with Fokofpolieskar, this Afrikaans rock group managed to shoot to stardom at the speed of light and then go on to transcend being a band all together – they are now considered to be a cultural phenomenon, a religion, a market all by themselves – one that has fed dozens of sound-a-like bands over the years (most of them look like them too!) as well as every possible spin off group imaginable.
Nothing can be learned from their career path! They are not a case study for anyone because their success can never be duplicated! They are the exception to every rule. They are the right band with the right sound saying the right stuff at the right time. They are the one in a billion.
So when a new album an entire decade later is announced, the pressure to deliver is immense as there are now two groups to impress : the die-hards who were there from the beginning and will love it no matter what (that’s easy!), and the sceptics who try to convince the world that they are overly hyped or old or irrelevant (not easy!).
So what is the verdict? The new record, Selfmedikasie, is fucking beautiful!
From “Dis in my bloed, baby” (It’s in my blood, baby) – the opening track that blows the Perspex lid off any turntable; from starting with it’s deadly opening riff while Francois Van Coke rasps desperately that he’s lost! – right through to the final song on side B, Lied Van Die Slang (prayer of the snake), this LP is relentless. It’s punk and it’s powerful, and at the same time it is also thoughtful and clever. The songs are mature but still have youthful vitriolic energy, a real testament to a lead singer who means every word.
From the first day that I ever heard Fokof, I realized that Johnny De Ridder (guitarist / producer) brought some magic cohesive ointment that made every production pure. Decades on, De Ridder still manages to create melody, power and authentic rawness to every song. Big fan!
It goes without saying that the rest of the band are phenomenal songwriters and musicians in the Fokof configuration (and to be fair, outside of it too in their respective other musical projects), but the magic and intensity as “Fokofpolisiekar” can still be created despite sobriety, kids and approaching 40.
This LP is beautifully made and I believe this to be an album that will stand the test of time in the Fokofpolisiekar catalogue.
I was a fan the first moment I saw them live 10 years ago and I’m still a fan. For fuck’s sake, I even made a whole movie about wanting to be them (See Stone Cold Jane Austen). What can they not do????? Urg!