At age 10, a family relative handed rhiZome a copy of “Meet the Beatles” and said, “you can have this, but only if you listen to it”. He listened. Later, frustrated with the musical tastes of his school-friends, even the close ones, he stumbled across the sadly short-lived music publication, “Music Maker”, a South African music mag modelled on the UK’s NME (New Musical Express) and Melody Maker.
In 1979, Music Maker published a 7 part feature entitled, The Evolution of Art Rock Through the 60’s & 70’s [an alternate culture], this was an informative first step for rhiZome who was introduced to Velvet Underground, Roxy Music, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno and the Krautrock scene
At roughly the same time, Capital Radio 604 in Port St Johns began broadcasting. The Saturday mid-morning slot featured ear-startling new sounds from both the UK and USA. The late-night Rock feature was the clincher- lesser-known late 60’s/70’s rock rubbed shoulders with post-punk groups. A new vista was opened; journeys filled with musical adventures, each one a unique discovery. Street Records in Braamfontein was a major source of supply. Among the artists that influenced his taste were Ry Cooder, Steely Dan, The Doors, Captain Beefheart, and the great late Frank Zappa. During the same period he also explored Post-punk – Joy Division, Talking Heads, Gang of Four and The Ruts.
rhiZome excitedly devoured the NME , a weekly cultural broadsheet, from cover to cover finding that the reviews and features of writers such as Paul Morley, Ian Penman and Don Watson provided codes and clues to developments in the 80’s musical vanguard. Such writing, at times impenetrably cryptic, situated the bands in a broader cultural avant-garde. He was introduced to the socio political, literary and philosophical sources (Roland Barthes and Jean Baudrillard) that influenced the music of the times – Cabaret Voltaire, PIL, The Fall, The Birthday Party, The Pop Group and Wire and the Post-punk diaspora – Einsturzende Neubauten, Swans, Foetus, Nick Cave and Sonic Youth.
In the late 80’s, record libraries in the suburb of Central, Port Elizabeth and in Cape Town, kept his musical tap on full. Melody Maker magazine and its clutch of great writers, especially Simon Reynolds, and later, The Wire magazine helped spread his musical nets even wider. Mail-order shops like Rough Trade (UK), Recommended Records (UK) and Ralph Records (USA) were a godsend.
Key Artists at the time were The Young Gods, The Pixies, Tim Buckley and 70’S Miles Davis. Genres explored at the time were European and American Avant-Jazz – John Zorn, Elliot Sharp, Last Exit, Sun Ra and Franz Koglmann; Out Rock – Techno-Animal, Jad Fair, Silver Apples and Zev; Electronica – Mouse on Mars, Isolee, Porter Ricks and Pole and Dub Reggae – King Tubby, Keith Hudson and Augustus Pablo.
In rhiZome’s opinion the new millennium brought about a downward turn. Music started to become too self-consciously referential, too obsessed with its past. Artists and bands quoted and raided the history of music on a scale like never before, sadly not for inspiration, but to replicate not initiate.
Things took a new turn however when the Internet opened up floodgates from every corner of the globe. Tuvan throat-singers collaborated with death-metal bands from Scandinavia; left-field electronica meet Japanese noise-rock and so forth and so on. It is this spirit for musical adventure, the discovering of a lost-gem from the past that has become the stock in trade for artists who extend boundaries or try to express answers to music’s most vital question: where to from now? This is what keeps rhiZome traveling on, continually searching for new avenues and new voices.
rhiZome: 5 Desert Island Songs- Tim Buckley – Sweet Surrender, Holger Czukay – Persian Love, Brian Wilson – Surfs Up (solo piano version), Miles Davis – He Loved Him Madly, Joy Division – Atmosphere
Disseminate all avenues rhiZome