By Richard Wink
Watching the Harmony Korine directed Umshini Wam told me that Die Antwoord were nothing more than bad actors, who like to dwell in their safely constructed realm of zef trash, the short film brought forth the usual feelings of emptiness one gets after watching one of Korine’s ‘masterpieces’. Only this time, the disgust turned to apathy. I’m bored already.
Die Antwoord were once a curiosity – when they first entered the conscious of the mainstream through visually arresting music videos such as ‘Enter The Ninja’ a lot of people, including myself, thought – what the feck is this? It helped them undoubtedly, this carnivalesque shock factor, and gave them a platform online. Unfortunately in the age of trending viral videos and memes that occupy our attention for a matter of moments we were never likely to get any substance from Die Antwoord. They are a product of this attention deprived world. Like tired jokes told second time around, this album receives only a polite muted response.
There are moments on Ten$ion when it appears even Die Antwoord is getting tired of themselves. Ninja’s over the top posturing and Yo-Landi’s innocent Lolita devil girl persona has worn thin; more so, when the beats from DJ Hi-Tek transcend into horrific pastiche’s of early nineties rave tracks.
Trashiness is alluring, in popular culture we can talk fondly of the wonderful Canadian sitcom Trailer Park Boys, Channel 4’s Shameless or documentary films such as The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia; not to mention the endless television programmes about Gypsies. When it comes to music, we’ve had chav groups such as Blazing Squad, Blackout Crew or Goldie Lookin Chain, but there just isn’t enough mileage on record compared to film. With that, Die Antwoord is already in danger of joining these fondly forgotten names.
At times I feel like I’ve been taken back in time to a moment when I was listening to the Outhere Brothers’ sexually explicit edit of ‘Boom Boom Boom’ back before I discovered what a clitoris was. Aggressive sexual imagery prevails in Ten$ion, but it’s a regression to Licensed to Ill, and long lost teenage wasteland. You want to raise a smile whenever Ninja drops a crass “fok”, though for whatever reason you can’t.
There are tracks that fit in to the current vapid nature of chart dance pop; ‘I Fink U Freeky’ is Benny Benassi meets a more verbose LMFAO. It can be chucked in with all these songs that reference the mythical nightclub space known as the ‘Floor’ – this sticky, sweaty pig trough populated by muscle bound Geordie Shore lads and TOWIE tramps.
Ten$ion is not worth investigating, purely because it covers no new ground. Of course, it is obvious that a certain aspect of Die Antwoord’s collective personality is shambolic, lazy, and bottom of the barrel scraping, perhaps Ten$ion is a knowing nod, an admittance that they never had any long term plans, or progressive ideas in the first place, that their heart will always be in the gutter.
Essentially Die Antwoord would be better suited away from the album format. Just dip in every now and again and surprise us with clever music videos. An album exposes their weaknesses, as a tiring rap-rave group, with limited lyrical scope. Significantly their music loses its common charm; the more you are exposed to it without the aid of a fantabulous visual accompaniment.