Max Normal is all over YouTube

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When we first wrote about the Die Antwoord precursor, Max Normal (aka MaxNormal.TV), they remained something of a mystery, a group that had once performed “high energy hip-hop power point presentations” in business suits but had since erased nearly all of their online presence. But with the growing interest in Die Antwoord and their uniquely South African spin on foul-mouthed party rap, we’re happy to report that several enterprising souls have restored significant chunks of the Max Normal catalog to YouTube.

A quick YouTube search now reveals about 20 Max Normal tracks, including such hints at future Die Antwoord brilliance as “Punch My Teeth Out” and “Angel Claw,” as well as a 2007 interview with Waddy Jones (the future Ninja) and Yo-Landi Visser (the future Yo-Landi Vi$$er) that seems disarmingly frank and honest. At the time, Jones was 33 (which would make him 37 or 38 now) and Visser was a vegetarian (and maybe still is). Who knew?

Of all the Max Normal tracks and videos that have resurfaced of late, this montage from one of their live shows is probably our favorite. It gives you an idea of, on the one hand, how incredibly talented Jones and his crew were even back in the day and, on the other, how hopelessly dorky the whole Max Normal concept was. Then again, if the Jones hadn’t spent all those years doing his rapper-as-motivational-speaker shtick, he probably never would have had the wherewithal to transform himself into Ninja. Like Max Normal says in the intro, “If you conceive it and you believe it, you can achieve it!”

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Weirdify Playlist 4: Techno Fucking Way

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Sometimes here at TWBITW, we like to get on down with our bad selves. And by “bad,” we mean, “in no fit state to be getting on down with anything, unless it’s a couch or a mattress with good lumbar support.” Still, we do try to give the old carcasses a little wiggle every once in awhile. And there’s nothing more fun to wiggle to (or easier, especially for us white folks) than a some good old-fashioned boot-in-a-dryer music. We’re talking techno*, people!

This time around, I’ve decided to annotate the playlist a bit. So read on to learn more about the 14 artists and tracks represented in this mix—and while you’re reading, fire up the ol’ Spotify and see if you’re capable of dancing and reading at the same time. I bet you can do it.

*And related genres of EDM. Don’t get all purist on us, k?

1. The Soft Pink Truth, “Soft Pink Missy.” SPT is Drew Daniel, one-half of the experimental electronic duo Matmos. His stuff is often filed under “microhouse,” all of which sounds pretty weird—but Daniel is especially adept at constructing dance tracks built out of tiny edits from all sorts of sampled material. I figured this was a nice, gentle way to ease y’all into some of the harder stuff coming.

2. The Vegetable Orchestra, “Pumpkin Jam” (Märtini Brös remix). A not-so-weird track, until you realize that most of it was created using instruments made out of vegetables. Märtini Brös, the German duo who did the remix, have created some pretty weird dance tracks of their own, including this one.

3. Greenskeepers, “Man in the House” (GK 911 remix). This Chicago house/electro-pop group makes many songs with a twisted sense of humor, most famously “Lotion,” a bouncy New Wave jam narrated by Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs. This one isn’t quite that weird, but it’s got a fun beat.

4. Justin Martin and Sammy D, “The Southern Draw.” This one takes awhile to get going, but stay with it, and it gets wacky, trust me. It’s from the Dirtybird label, which releases a lot of terrific, offbeat techno—but nothing more offbeat than this.

5. Oli Chang, “Chicken Techno.” I’m pretty sure this one needs no explanation.

6. Die Antwoord, “I Fink U Freeky.” The raviest rave anthem from South Africa’s awesomely twisted “zef rap-rave” crew. I still can’t quite believe that they played this on Letterman.

7. Von Südenfed, “Flooded.” A collaboration between the German experimental electronic duo Mouse on Mars and Mark E. Smith from The Fall—who turns out to be a surprisingly excellent dance music vocalist, at least in small doses. No, this isn’t strictly speaking techno, but it fucking rocks. And no, it’s not dubstep, either. Can we all please agree that not everything with a dark, twisted bassline is dubstep? Thank you.

8. Anklepants, “Deadline 4734 vs. Inside Your Face” (Imposex mix). We just featured this guy as our Weird Band of the Week. At first I was mostly just fascinated with his creepily lifelike monster mask, but the more I listen to his music, the more I’m digging it. He’s not really techno either, and I’m not even sure you can dance to this stuff, but it’s amazing.

9. Laibach, “Wirtschaft” (Richie Hawtin Hardcore Noise Mix). One of the greatest techno producers of all time, Richie Hawtin (aka Plastikman), turns one of the weirdest industrial bands of all time into a jam for the ladies. That is, if those ladies like slam-dancing in steel-toed boots.

10. Underworld, “Moaner.” Underworld are one of those bands that became so popular, it’s easy now to forget how totally fucking wackadoodle even many of their best-known tracks are. This isn’t even their wackiest, but I think it’s one of their most underrated, with an insanely building synth line and Karl Hyde declaiming his surrealist raver poetry like a man possessed. God, they were so good back in the day.

11. Matthew Herbert, “February.” A British producer known for building his tracks out of field recordings of everything from bodily functions to household objects, Herbert released his weirdest and most controversial work last year: One Pig, an album of abstract musique concrete built from the sounds of the life cycle of a commercially raised pig, from birth to slaughter to dining table. On this track, from late in the album, you can hear butcher’s saws and the sounds of percussion instruments made out of the pig’s bones. It’s sort of the opposite of Vegetable Orchestra—and while I admit it’s pretty disturbing stuff, it kinda makes you crave bacon, doesn’t it?

12. Gangpol & Mit, “Balatchi Basketcha.” This track is about as close as the French kitschtronica duo G&M ever come to techno—and still, it’s less clubby, more Saturday-morning-cartoony, if Shag ever did Saturday morning cartoons. How awesome would that be?

13. Twink, “Slush Bunny.” Toy piano techno. You’re welcome, humanity!

14. Sir Ivan, “San Francisco” (John Kano radio mix). Yes, is the second playlist we’ve ended with Sir Ivan, but you know what? Fuck it. There’s something about his cheesy house/techno remakes of classic hippie songs that just seems like a fitting grand finale to an hour’s worth of weirdness. Such a strange vibration!

Hope you enjoy the playlist. If you do, tell a friend.

Die Antwoord on Letterman Monday night

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Now here’s a sentence you probably never thought you’d read: Die Antwoord will be joining Giants quarterback Eli Manning as the guests tonight (Monday, Feb. 6th) on The Late Show with David Letterman. Set your TiVos, you fokken chommies.

In other zef rap-rave news: Ten$ion, the second album from Ninja, Yo-Landi and DJ Hi-Tek, arrives this week in all fine record shops and e-tailers. You can stream the whole thing here, but play nice and buy that shit, because Die Antwoord turned down a million bucks from Interscope Records so they could go indie and release the weird-ass record we were all hoping for.

They’ve also got some U.S. tour dates. We’ll see you out at that LA show gettin freeky.

02.09.12 – Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero Theatre
02.10.12 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
02.11.12 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza
02.12.12 – Washington D.C. – 930 Club
02.14.12 – Toronto, ON – The Phoenix Concert Theatre
02.15.12 – Chicago, IL – Metro
02.18.12 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
02.19.12 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
02.22.12 – San Francisco, CA – The Regency Ballroom
02.20.12 – Seattle, WA – Showbox at the Market
02.22.12 – San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom
02.24.12 – Los Angeles, CA – Club Nokia
02.25.12 – Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues

*We’ve since learned that Die Antwoord apparently plan to release Ten$ion only digitally and on Flash drives because, in their words, “CDs are like motherfucking VHS.” Truth! Lies! You can buy the motherfucking CD version here.

Update: The video from their epic, unsettling performance is now live. “There’s your Super Bowl halftime show!”

New Die Antwoord track: “I Fink U Freeky”

Those hipster bastards at Pitchfork scooped us again. Today, they premiered “I Fink U Freeky,” a new track off the latest album from our favorite South African zef-rap-rave crew, Die Antwoord. “Freeky” is basically Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er’s version of a soccer techno anthem, with lots of Godzilla-sized synths and builds and breakdowns and whatnot. It’s what the Brits (and the South Africans, too?) call a huge choon, I believe. Or a right fokkin teef-grinder, innit?

Die Antwoord’s new album, TEN$ION, drops Feb. 7. Head on over to Pitchfork to hear “Freeky” and watch this space for more Die Antwoord news you can use.

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Weirdify Playlist 1: Happy New Year! We’re all gonna die.

Welcome to the first-ever Weirdest Band in the World playlist, kids. In keeping with what seems to already be the dominant theme of 2012–that according to some ancient Mayan prophecy, the world is going to end before next Christmas–we decided to go for a festive yet apocalyptic theme. Armageddon itself will no doubt suck, but the parties leading up to it? Fucking epic.

The playlist is up now on Spotify, courtesy of Andy, our resident DJ and aural mixologist. You can access it here via this nifty website we recently discovered called ShareMyPlaylists.com.

1. tUnE-yArDs, “You Yes You”
2. Primus, “Tragedy’s a’Comin'”
3. Social Climbers, “That’s Why”
4. Yip-Yip, “Anarchist Clog”
5. Mr. Bungle, “Ars Moriendi”
6. The Residents, “Boxes of Armageddon”
7. Laibach, “Two of Us”
8. Rammstein, “Du Hast”
9. Super Geek League, “Here Come the Cops!”
10. The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, “If We Go”
11. The Books, “Enjoy Your Worries, You May Never Have Them Again”
12. Tobacco, “Tape Eater”
13. Wagon christ, “Sentimental Hardcore”
14. Die Antwoord, “Fish Paste”
15. Brokencyde, “Dis Iz a Rager Dude”
16. Sir Ivan, “For What It’s Worth (FORD Rock Dance Radio Edit)”

Did you miss the link? Here it is again. Happy listening!

Max Normal (or, Die Antwoord v.1.0)

maxnormal

Of all the weird bands we’ve blogged about here on TWBITW, the one that’s gotten by far the biggest response so far is Die Antwoord, the South African “zef rap-rave crew” fronted by a scrawny, prison-tatted MC named Ninja and an even scrawnier singer/rapper/fly-girl named Yo-landi Vi$$er. Like a lot of baffled yet undeniably delighted observers, we suspected the whole thing might be a put-on, but there was something so awesome about the group’s outlandish attitude that we decided they were probably for real.

Well, it turns out we were had—sort of. Die Antwoord is actually the latest incarnation of another group called Max Normal, an earlier hip-hop crew which also featured the inimitable Ms. Visser (minus the dollar signs) and a fellow by the name of Waddy Jones, an actor/musician/artist/troublemaker who, before he created the Ninja character, fronted his Max Normal crew in a three-piece suit and (according to a band site that’s been taken down but is still viewable in archive form) performed “motivational speaking style raps” to deliver “high energy hip-hop power point presentation[s].” Quite a far cry from Die Antwoord’s ghetto fabulous approach, although judging from the above publicity photo, both groups do share the same Keith Haring-esque design aesthetic.

Waddy and co. have clearly attempted to cover their tracks: the old MaxNormal.tv website has been taken down and replaced with a deliberately primitive-looking WordPress “advertising blog” [Update: It’s now been taken down altogether] ; http://www.waddyjones.com similarly features a very plain-envelope article directory link farm, which we’re guessing (although we can’t find an archived version) has not always been the case. [Update: It now redirects, randomly, to this guy‘s visual artist website.] Even the Max Normal Wikipedia page was just taken down yesterday—ostensibly for copyright infringement. [Update: It’s since been restored and gives a very good and seemingly accurate history of the band.]

Not that we’re complaining about any of this. As the rest of the blogosphere has already widely proclaimed, what Jones and his crew are doing is so clever that an added layer of Borat-like chicanery is all just part of the fun. So enjoy this Max Normal video—which, as near as we can tell, is about two years old—and appreciate a.) how fucking versatile these guys are, and b.) how much better they’ve gotten in just a few years. If Waddy Jones doesn’t have his own HBO special by this time next year, we’ll guzzle the juice in this fish paste jar.

[Update: The video we originally posted has since been taken down due to a copyright claim. This one is even older, apparently dating back to 2001.]

[Bonus factoid: the dude in Die Antwoord with progeria has been widely identified as an artist/DJ named Leon Bartha Botha. Another zef rap-rave mystery solved! (And thanks to reader David for correcting our fucked-up spelling of his name.)]

[Sad update dept.: Botha died on June 5, 2011, of complications from progeria, which among things apparently speeds up the aging process. He was 26 and the oldest known survivor of progeria at the time of his death. We belatedly pour one out for you, Leon.]

You might also like: MC Frontalot, DJ Nu-Mark, Zayde Buti

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Die Antwoord

We gotta say, 2010 has gotten off to a pretty slow start here at TWBITW. There just isn’t much genuinely weird shit out there these days. Note to bands: There were over 100,000 new albums released last year. You might wanna try to, y’know, stand out a little.

So thank Christ on a crutch that someone finally hipped us to this “zef rap-rave crew” from South Africa called Die Antwoord. Frontman Ninja is fond of mentioning in every one of the group’s songs, videos and interviews that his crew is onto some “next level futuristic shit” and we gotta say—dude ain’t lying.

Die Antwoord—whose name apparently means “The Answer” in Afrikaans—also consists of singer/dancer/future American Apparel model Yo-landi Vi$$er, producer/DJ Hi-Tek (who will no doubt be getting a cease-and-desist letter shortly from this dude), and a little guy with progeria syndrome whose main job seems to be to stand around looking weird. Based on the intro to this video, you’d think the whole thing was a joke, but then Ninja starts rapping like a white South African Busta Rhymes over Hi-Tek’s squiggly beats and Yo-landi’s helium-voiced croons and something undeniably awesome starts to happen. What that something is exactly, we’re not sure, but we like it.

It’s hard to pick just one of Die Antwoord’s videos because they each showcase a different aspect of the group’s goofy, slightly malnourished charm. But the one that probably blew our minds the hardest was “Enter the Ninja”…especially the little inspirational monologue at the 4:05 mark. If you’re hungry for more, we’d also recommend the video for “Wat Pomp,” which appears to use the same set. Recycling—it’s da bomb, baby!

P.S. For a long time, the above video wouldn’t play as an embed, but since Die Antwoord ended their contract with Interscope Records, it’s back. Sweet!

P.P.S. See also our post about Max Normal, the “motivational speaker-style” rap group that Ninja and Yo-landi were in prior to Die Antwoord.

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