Try to imagine what it’s like to be Felix Laband. I know it’s an impossible task, but you should still try. When in close proximity to him, I have never felt a greater distance between myself and another human. His music, however, encapsulates me like a second skin and interlaces with the remnants of my threadbare soul.
Felix is the most important storyteller of the formative generation of underground electronic music producers in South Africa. His voice has always been vital, critical and significant but all too often it has been muffled by self-destruction. There is no denying that when the tide ebbs in his favour, the results are devastatingly excellent.
“Deaf Safari” is laced with vocal samples taken from South African politics as well as content addressing drugs, death, and the stark realities of the world we have created for ourselves. I detect a sense of pride in the way he incorporates the distinctly South African elements in each track, regardless of the negative connotations, be it corruption and unrest in ‘Ding Dong Thing’ or witchcraft and suffering in ‘The Devil Threatens Me’. Yet, the samples are often so blatant and revealing I can’t help but feel duped, is this his way of letting us into the internal turmoil of his existence or is he messing with us? Laband has the frustrating and impressive ability to exist in the grey area between being too progressive and alarmingly nostalgic. As if his creativity is sourced from the purgatory between silence and cacophony.
There is a journey within “Deaf Safari” that I fear could turn into misadventure if not experienced with an unprejudiced mind. Too many people seek the satisfaction once meted out by Donkey Rattle and forsake the beauty of the rest of his body of work. Before you listen to this album, just try to imagine what it’s like to be Felix Laband, I know it’s an impossible task, but you should still try.
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Listen to ‘Deaf Safari’ below on Deezer.