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Pollinator: A Catharsis For SA Rock

Joburg funk rockers splice together something fresh with latest offering.

7 Sep 2017 / Opinion / written by Duncan Park / Pic by Henry Engelbrecht

As much as it sucks to say, South African rock music, to a significant degree, lives in the shadow of its European and American counterparts. Almost every time someone tells me about a new local band they phrase it saying “They’re the South African Nirvana”, or “They’re sort of like a South African Tool”, or “They’re totally South Africa’s answer to Ty Segall”. It’s like our rock bands only exist in a quagmire as parallel versions of more famous international acts.

Enter Pollinator. Right off the bat – “Fruit” is undoubtedly the most original and unique offering I’ve ever heard from a South African rock ‘n roll band. To my ears, it’s the first SA rock album that defies superficial sonic comparisons to the international overlords of the genre.

Rock ‘n’ roll, a generally derivative genre built on recycled riffs and hooks, is an arena in which it is almost impossible stand out and do something new. “Fruit” ticks all the right rock ‘n’ roll boxes: insane guitar tone, thunderously tight drumming, rock solid bass and undeniably sexy licks (“Expectations” is a proper grinder).

The three-part vocals are also to be admired, as are their subversive lyrics. The hook on “Apple Pie” (“I like salad because I’m a woman”) sung by drummer, Tim Edwards, although humerous at first, has a latent air of sadness to it.

The album’s artwork, courtesy of Annemarie Buchner, is also worth a mention and shows attention to detail.

But even though Pollinator stick so closely to the essentials of the rock ‘n’ roll rulebook, they sound completely original. The riffs and chord progressions are totally unique, and the songs unfold in directions which, on first, second, and even third listens, are completely unexpected.

Upon reaching out to Pollinator, Evert Snyman (vox, guitar, keys & percussion) informed me that the band produced and recorded the album themselves at their own studio, THE BACKLINE, and that, “All three [band members] have totally different styles and tastes in music, [so] we just try to mash it up together.” Louise Eksteen (vox & bass) was also primarily responsible for mixing the record and mastered it.

Perhaps by working as an isolated, independent three-piece unit is their secret to creating such a unique and flavourful album, complete with all the rock ‘n’ roll trimmings.

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Listen to “Fruit” below.