Glaskas 'Verganklik en Afhanklik' Review by Murray Walker
I think it's important to state right from the start that I'm not a big Glaskas fan. I don't have a personal vendetta against the band or anything, they just don't play the type of rock music I enjoy. I've always thought Glaskas occupies a space in South African music similar to that of Fall Out Boy. They churn out the hits and are on constant rotation on music video channel MK but they've always come across as a pop machine rather than a band that's attempting something different.
‘Verganklik en Afhanklik’ is Glaskas’s fourth album in 8 years. The title means ‘Perishable and Dependent’. But before you mutter ‘dirty emos’ to yourself, this isn’t an album of self-loathing or world-hating. It is, thankfully, more thoughtful than that.
There is a prominent theme of yearning for change in this album. Deon Meiring, vocalist, guitarist and lyricist, seems in need of escape. He yearns for a change of perspective, to go on a journey and see the world anew. “Jy mag dalk redeneer/dat ons uit geskiedenis kan leer/maar ervaring is wat nodig is/vir ons om aan te beweeg” (You could argue that we can learn from history but experience is what’s needed for us to move forward) Meiring sings on ‘Eilande’. He continues: “Ek is moeg vir stilstaan/ek wil beweeg/ek wil meer /van vrede leer” (I’m tired of standing still, I want to move. I want to learn more about peace).
The theme is continued on ‘Ruimtereisger’: “Ek het vanaand ‘n behoefte/om deur die ruimte te reis/Ek wil graag hierdie Aarde/van ‘n ander oogpunt bekyk” (I have a need to travel through space tonight. I want to see the world from another point of view).
There is certainly some substance to the lyrical content of this album in between the obligatory I’ll-never-leave-you-I-need-you love song fluff. It seems quite personal too which is difficult to fault.
Another thing that’s annoyingly tough to poke a stick at is Glaskas’s ability to churn out catchy choruses. It’s insane. I caught myself singing along after only the third listen. It’s no wonder they’re so popular. Almost every track on this album has an infectious melody. They must just blindly poke a pin at the song list to choose the next single. For a preppy 17-year old (boy or girl) this album is kryptonite.
One last nod before I tackle the train smash that is the opening track: Glaskas has done a great cover of Johannes Kerkorrel’s ‘Revolusie’. They’ve simplified it and I think actually improved upon the original. It’s also eerie how pertinent the lyrics are in 2012. The song was released 20 years ago on Kerkorrel’s ‘Bloudruk’ album.
Now I need to tell you about album opener ‘Wegbreek’. I got such a nasty surprise about halfway through that I almost crashed my car. It begins innocently enough, it’s classic Glaskas for the first 2 minutes or so until HemelBesem starts rapping out of nowhere and the music is butchered by turntable scratching. I have no problem with rap or scratching but this is just such a harsh juxtaposition of styles that it cannot be rescued. It sounds contrived, as if the part was wedged into the song using a sledgehammer. It’s terrible. You’ve been warned.
From winning Jip Rockspaaider in 2004 as teenagers, Glaskas has certainly showed longevity. Something not often associated with talent show winners, especially in South Africa. They’ve endured though, kudos to them. Their fans will probably love this record. Teenagers will sing along into their hair brushes. Moms will approve of the wholesome content and inoffensive sound. Music’s imagined boundaries will remain undisturbed.