Gray Noise

It’s that time of the year again.
The birds are humming the bees are buzzing… well, it’s Spring Day in South Africa
What’s new? definitely not Spring or any of the four seasons for that matter.

“Perfect skies are blue and strange, just to think of what has been arranged
And a bloom of flowers here
But my boots are still too tight
Standing here day by day
All I want to say, all I want to say, all I want to say
Is I think I know what’s wrong with me now”

The Springbok Nude Girls rocking the crowd

The Springbok Nude Girls rocking the crowd

Something spectacular happened in South Africa 20 years ago… Freedom, yes, but what I’m about to talk about right here is our first post-apartheid rock band… Yeap, You guessed it…
Lead by Arno Carstens, The Springbok Nude Girls were voted the Best South African rock band in a poll conducted by 5FM. As far as music is concerned, that’s the least of their achievements.


The Springbok Nude Girls on stage

Above I quoted lyrics from A Springbok Nude Girls classic, “Bubblegum On My Boots”. This number swings from being a shy-trumpet accompanied arm waving sing along tune to a full on rock n roll head banger.
The song seems to be about a big fish in a small pond, procrastination and all his friends.
It’s about a moment when one realises the  boundless-ness of  their potential and how they’ve allowed circumstances to keep them from going forward thus far.

What Arno Carstens has done with this number on his 2014 solo release Lightning Prevails is a treat to old and new fans… it’s something you have to hear for yourself.

Like every one else in this world, I’m convinced that I have the best taste in music, and as a person with a good ear for music (that I am), I dub Arno Carstens as one of the greatest rock stars of our time, I’m not basing this as just a fan but because as a musician, he proved that he isn’t The Springbok Nude Girls, that he could make it work with or without his band… I could name a few band leaders who’ve went solo without much success, but I wont.
When The Springbok Nude Girls went on an indefinite hiatus in 2001 not all was lost as two years later (In 2003) Arno Carstens went on to release one of the most anticipated solo projects in South African music history in the form of “Another Universe”, his debut solo album.
Becoming the biggest selling South African English rock album this side of the millennium, “Another Universe” did not only go platinum but won a SAMA for Best Rock Album the following year.

Black music?

Black music?

White music?

White music?

At the wake of my palate as sound was just like the others, no, I mean colour was just like the others, Yes, it was only later that I learned that music had colour, and when I did, it felt like I had been living my whole life in another universe, see what I did there? (What I’m trying to say is that I think classifying music as either white or black music is total rtyuihg)


“Another Universe” is another classic Arno Carstens reworked… this time, with the help of the legendary Johnny Clegg… This song alone deserves its own blogpost… watch this space.

It’s quite obvious that Arno Carstens is a force to recon with which is why I’m so excited to see him as one of the judges/mentors in X Factor SA starting this weekend on SABC1.

Lightning Prevails album art

Lightning Prevails album art

Lightning Prevails is out now! treat yourself.

“Lets play the mellow music slow, leave the car on the highway and go
Nobody needs to know another universe, Make a distance between us and them
Lonely, lonely, never us again”

About Ndumiso Mncwabe

When beautiful melodies tell us horrible things and grisly sounds tell us the kind truth. This is where life and music meet. They say music has the power to inspire change, I say music has the power to inspire vibes. Good vibes and bad vibes. It also has the power to inspire thoughts, but most importantly, for it to inspire change, it must inspire conversation. I smell music, I speak music. View all posts by Ndumiso Mncwabe

3 responses to “Gray Noise

  • Cory

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  • Our Noise | Music Smells Like Noise

    […] After so many years of trying to bridge the gap between us and the world, trying to meet the standards the west has set for everyone, we’ve realized that we’ve always had it. It was 21 years ago this month when South Africa got to see it’s first post apartheid band on stage, it was a year ago this month when I got the honour of mentioning this band along with it’s frontman on probably my best blogpost to date Gray Noise. […]


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