About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

08 October 2011

Symphonic Rocks - Johannesburg

I came across last year's inaugural edition the week it was going to take place in Cape Town. By chance I was in Cape Town that week, but the concert was sold out. So, when I saw the concert pop up on Computicket, I bought the Jo'burg tickets with little hesitation. The concept is simple - take a few original South African music acts, and combine their music with a full orchestra. The result was stunning.

I have a new home theatre system, and have been testing my Blu Ray copy of Within Temptation's Black Symphony this past week - so it was easy to compare the results. The symphony definitely made the music better; and made a better show. Not all songs were suitable for orchestral performance though; but I think that can change if the bands themselves make bands with an orchestra in mind. The electronic instruments on stage also, at times, seemed to be louder than the orchestra instruments; dimming the effect. All together though, it was a great concert, and well produced; and all the credit to Andy Mac for putting it all together.

The first half of the concert featured CrashCarBurn, Zolani Maholo (of Freshlyground fame), Aro Carstens, Loyiso and Tumi & The Volume. Of the 5, I have heard a number of Freshlyground tracks with orchestral backing before; so it was not too strange; and Zolani's voice was stunning as expected. Arno Carsten's rendition of "Blue Eyes" with the orchestra was, in my opinion, the best song in the first half - with Tumi & The Volume's rap songs running a close second.

The second half started with Macstanley (the former Flat Stanley), followed by Locknville, Zebra & Giraffe and finally Ard Matthews. I did not know much about Locknville, but I had heard one of their songs on radio before. The transformation of electronic music pieces to a live instrumental performance was brilliant - and I think the guys could create an entire album in that fashion. Zebra & Giraffe were, apart from CrashCarBurn, the only other rock band, and they really brought out the "Symphonic Rock" vibe. I had not heard them perform live before, and I think I would really enjoy a full set from them. And finally Ard Matthews came to stage with a lot of jibes about his bungling of the national anthem; but he didn't bungle the Just Jinger songs; and it was a fitting end to the show.

I would definitely support an annual event of Symphonic Rocks; but I want some real rock bands. A full Springbok Nude Girls outfit, or a Seether set, or even full sets from bands such as Zebra & Giraffe would be preferable than the current format, in my opinion. The current format is definitely a lot more accessible (a lot of kids and older people in the audience), but then it is not a rock concert ...

07 October 2011

Old and New - JPO's 4th Season 1st Concert

Wednesday night kicked of the last JPO season of the year, and this season has an intriguing mix of music choices. I am particularly looking forward to Week 5 (1st week of Nov) for the Double Bass Concerto - I hope I can attend it. Wednesday night's attendance was rather poor - a pity, because it was a fantastic program.

The season started off with "Afroverture", a brand new composition by South African composer Simon Bhekathini Phelelani Mnomiya (known apparently for his choral works), which made its debut performance. The name was slightly misleading, because, beyond drum rhythyms, I did not hear too much African fusion; but the combination of the drums and brass was impressive - and I think it was a fantastic piece. The symphony for the evening, Schubert’s Symphony No. 3, was played in the first half of the program, following the Afroverture.

The last piece, is Beethoven's Fifth (and last) Piano Concerto, played by UCT Professor Francois du Toit. The third movement of the concerto is very popular, and I have heard it a number of times - especially on Classic FM. And while the last movement is impressive - I enjoyed the first movement even more. It was a masterful performance, and highly enjoyable performance.

06 October 2011

Goodbye Steve Jobs

He was a visionary - not only on gadgets, but the entire digital lifestyle experience. It was more than just iPods, iPhones, iPads and before that, the Mac. It was also Pixar, Disney, iTunes and OS X. It was about design and usability - not GHz and MB.

If I look back, what drove my attention to DRM, was the then recently launched iTunes Music store; with Fairplay DRM. That's what drove my interest into copyright law, into DRM; and perhaps security as a discipline itself ... for that, thank you.

03 October 2011


Foreigners are often astounded by the fact that South Africa has 11 official languages. What is more interesting is asking different people, what they believe is the "average" number that are spoken by South Africans - and inevitably it breaks down racial lines. I have asked this question to a number of people I know - some like me speak only English fluently and understand the basics of another (most likely to be Afrikaans); others are fluent in two languages (usually English and Afrikaans) - while many more are fluent in a lot more, 4, 5 or even more. So the polyglot I once met in a Cape Town station is not that rare; though his language skills were far more diverse.

Stephen Fry has a very interesting series on BBC (no mention on where one can easily acquire it without watching BBC) called Fry's Planet Word, which explores the development of language - historically, culturally, physiologically etc. I have only watched one episode, but I think it is yet another BBC gem that is really worth watching.

Updated, full review can be found here.

02 October 2011

Zoo City

Published last year to great reviews and many awards, including the 2011 Arthur C Clarke Award, the science fiction/crime thriller is set in Johannesburg. Although set in a parallel universe, the exploration of Johannesburg itself by the heroine (Zinzi December) - from Hillbrow, through Houghton and Rosebank, to Sandton and Midrand - is fascinating as the storyline itself.

People who have committed crimes in this parallel universe are magically attached by an animal familiar, which then create a "load" on their shoulders per se. Zinzi December is an ex journalist, recovering drug addict with a sloth familiar; who has the magical ability to find "lost" items (not stolen), as well as write some brilliant 419 scam letters.

The story weaves the tales of Africa itself - from rising musical stars and producers/hanger-ons that seemingly exploit them, muti magic to various sub plots of refugees, including the tales of the conflict in the great lakes. In fact, the sub plots of the DRC - be it the journeys that the refugees take to escape from their hell to a lesser hell, or the stories about the conflicts themselves could easily become great books themselves.

Zoo City is a fantastic story, and I am now looking to find the earlier novel by Lauren Beukes, Moxyland.