Tuesday, November 12, 2002

It's been a while since I left you without a dope beat to step to. So here's:
The Swish Guide to South African Music - Part 10
"Taximan" by éVoid - 1984 [download the mp3]

Brothers Lucien and Erik Windrich were born in the Netherlands, and grew up in Zimbabwe, where, as a band called The Void, their cover of The Knack's "My Sharona" reached number 3 in 1979. In 1983, spotting the potential of the crossover market, they changed their name to the more African-sounding éVoid, donned warpaint and tribal clothing, and invented a whole new ethos: ethnotronics, an unlikely blend of prog rock, new romanticism and African rhythms. Think Spandau Ballet meets Bow Wow Wow meets Visage via A Flock Of Seagulls with a bit of Genesis. In Africa.

With their sculpted cheekbones, dramatic make-up and lurid costumes, they took South Africa by storm. Their first single as éVoid, "Shadows", reached number 3, while the subsequent album topped the charts. They were a phenomenon - fans, known as 'fadgets', would queue for hours outside their live venues, dressed in garish ethno-gypsy gear. The song I've made available here, second single Taximan, sounds dated and tinny, but sadly it's the only track of theirs I own on CD.

The band had reached the top in South Africa - there was nowhere else for them to go but overseas. So off they trooped to London. Rumours of drugs and alcohol and mental health problems filtered back. A low-key comeback tour in late '86 was accompanied by a messy second album. And then they disappeared off the radar, but I spotted them playing to lagered-up ex-pats in a spit-and-sawdust South African pub in London as recently as two years ago. How the mighty...

Read more about éVoid here.

Let me know what you think of this. Buy South African CDs online at oneworld.co.za.

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