Jedi Rollers’ latest single and video “A Glimmer of Light” is about finding hope in the darkness – but its optimism is checked by a constant and very realistic sense of unease.
With over 20 years of experience on the scene and over 30 people associated with the band, many of whom have since struck out on their own, Jedi Rollers have quietly amassed a cult following in their stronghold of Port Elizabeth – and with good reason.
Having started off as a spoken-word, reggae-inflected funk and progressed to a more alternative-rock sound their style is one as dynamic and diverse as the South African community.
“A Glimmer of Light” at its core, is an optimistic track which espouses the belief that as long as there is even a small nugget of hope, there’s always the chance that things will get better. That optimism, however, comes across as somewhat conflicted. Frontman Inspector Ras’ words and the general upbeat reggae rhythm fight for a better future through murky, suspenseful guitar and bass lines which bring with them a sense of uncertainty and anxiety.
That unease colours the video in a very specific way. Made up of footage from old performances, as well as contemporary performances, the sense of unity the visuals provide is undercut and made to seem tenuous, giving one the impression that underneath the band’s optimism there’s a very real understanding of the situation as it is and that things could explode at any moment.
This complexity in the video all comes from the song. With a different sonic energy it could be something much more innocent, maybe even naïve, but the subtle intensity of the music gives it a more nuanced, objective identity we can get right behind.