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South Africa - Music


  When I went to Rustlers festival near Ficksburg three weeks
ago, much of the music was rave - what they listen to, apparently, in
Jo'burg. It was interesting, and best summed up by a newspaper
article appended to this message.

At Rustlers, and also at Splashy Fen, last weekend, was also a lot
of South African Folk music. Splashy Fen, in particular, had some
most excellent examples of the genre. Ladysmith Black Mambazo was
playing live at Splashy Fen, which made my day. Little new music
from them though, but it was great to see them sing (and dance)
in Zulu for the large Zulu audience there. There was also a
Camaroon group, and many small bands from Durban and Cape town,
truly superb.

Cheers,   Andy!

Article from Weekly Telegraph 1st May about Rave in UK. 
Sorry about the formatting ...

WHEN CDs arrived in
 the Eighties, every
body predicted the
        downfall of the
 vinyl record. After all, the lit-
 tie silver discs stored sound
 that reproduced perfectly
 every time. They would, it was
 claimed, last for ever.
 Even though we now know
 the CD is far from the super-
 natural storage medium
 promised by those first ads,
 figures show that vinyl is
 dying. In 1996, 208·4 million
 albums were bought in Brit-
 ain. Of those, only 2·4 million
 were vinyl LPs. In 1990 that
 figure had been 24·1 million.
 The story with singles is the
 same: of 78·3 million sold last
 year, only 2·2 million were on
 7in vinyl.
  But there is one area where
 vinyl has held its own.
  Twelve-inch single sales
 have remained nearly stable
 for the past five years,
 accounting for around eight
 or nine million of the 80-odd
 million total singles sales.
 The 12in vinyl single's pre-
 carious survival has been
 based on one thing -- the
 growth of DJ culture. Stories
 of DJs' new superstar status
 abound; for instance, Jeremy
 Healey's reputed f15,000 for
 one night's work last New
 Year's Eve (he used a helicop-
 ter to fly between gigs).
  So why is vinyl so important
 to the DJ?
  Analogue technology such
 as turntables and vinyl
 records can do things that the
 most sophisticated digital
 equipment can't. DJs need to
 feel in control of their mach-
 ines, and get quick feedback
 about their performance.
 They favour direct-drive
 turntables that spin at full
 speed immediately, rather
 than the more common belt-
 drive turntables, which take a
 few seconds to make it from
 nought to 33%. Precision is
 everything, and on CD the
 tiny delay between pressing
 "play" and the first note is
 enough to scotch any chance
 of dropping a beat in exactly
 the right place.
  The key to dancefloor suc-
 cess is the turntable "pitch
 control" slider. Since mixing
 involves making seamless
 transitions from one record to
 another, the ability to make
 subtle adjustments to match
 the speed of two tunes is vital.
 On a CD player, the pace has
 been digitally "set", which for
  There is also an entire sub-
 culture of the DJ world
 devoted to the equivalent of
 taking the bonnet up and fid-
 dling with the insides. The
 Technics SL-1200 turntable
 inspires extraordinary devo·
 tion, and SL-1200 tricks are
 swapped like the secrets of
 Formula One mechanics.
  Hip-hop DJs, who have
 taken the craft to new peaks,
 and have a special affection
 for vinyl, have arcane tricks
 to improve performance.
  Japan's finest, DJ Brush,
 has been spotted warming his
 records before putting them
 on the turntable. There are
 even discussions ahout the

correct thickness and texture
of your slipmat. With this
level of fetishisation, it's no
wonder the experimental
techno artist The Aphex Twin
once spent an hour "playing"
two sanding discs to an unfor-
tunate elub-hll of people.
And DJs aren't just playing
vinyl records -- they're mak-
ing them, too. L'Digging in the
crates" for rare tunes (usually
jazz, funk or soul, thongh
nowadays- increasingly old
hip-hop, electro or early
house records) ispne of the
greatest pleasures of the DJ
culture, but with some
sought-alter records going
for several hundred pounds
apieee, it's often impossible
for the hard-np DJ to get the
best tunes. So bootleg records
are circulating via specialist
record shops, re-cut from the
originals by collectors or DJs.
 Occasionally a hip-hop DJ
might get 10 bootlegged
copies of a favourite tnne
pressed up so that a precious
original doesn't get worn out
by scratching.
 New tunes are often circu·
lated on "dub plates" or
"white labels" (sometimes
now on DAT), small-quantity
pressings with no label or
packaging. This is a kind ol
test-marketing and music thal
gets a good response will get 6
commercial release.
 However, the advent of 5
new generation of CD playerr
does threaten vinyl In this
area. Manufacturers such as
Pioneer and Denon have
brought out machines that
can do speed changes, digital
beat synching and just about
everything else an analogue
turutable can achieve.
 But there remains a reluc·
tame among DJs to switch.
Some of this is purely on
"cool" grounds. As one music
PR remarked about CD mix-
ing: "Well, it's just for fluffy
little ambient DJs, isn't it?
You don't want to turnup to a
gig with a little handbag of
CDs, do you? You want a big
flightcase full of records."
 A new generation of techne
DJs is coming up who like the
precision of digital equip·
ment. But most DJs remain
wedded to the "physicality"
of vinyl. Pushing buttons still
does not give the dynamic,
responsive experience of han-
dling a piece of plastic and
pushing it backwards and for-
wards under a tiny diamond.