Back To Columns The Hip-Hop Headrush


Words by Adi

Review of Volume at the Bassline, Melville, 02/07/2002

Last night I sat in a darkened Bassline in Melville, crowded around a small table with friends, fighting off the cold. I hadn't thought about what to expect from the band that were playing, in fact I didn't know what they were called. As I usually say, the universe puts you right where you need to be and let me tell you, this is where I needed to be. After a week of frightening deadlines and late nights in front of my 'puter I thought what I needed most was sleep. That was until Volume stepped up to play. A concept band, they are tight and they are in a class all of their own when it comes to their genre in the SA music scene.

Volume's music is inspired by life, by the jazz greats, true 70's funk and new-school Hip-Hop. The music is beautiful and funky with rolling riffs that truly ride with rhythm. Think Sharpshooters, Sarah Jones and Diggable Planets, throw in Theloniuos Monk, dubby jazz, Ernest Ranglin and above all beat driven poetry. The cutting edge spoken word message combined with the impeccable groove showcases Volume as passionate artists who are uninfluenced by the commercial world of music that has the likes of Jah Rule and Snoop Dog, calling themselves Hip-Hop artists.

The band is comprised of Paulo the beat-master on percussion, becoming an extension of the drums he beats. Dave, the intense and broody base player with long fingers that surf the chords with a laidback sense of smooth. Tiago, the lead guitar-monster whose distorting, pitching and exquisite melodies create an unmistakable beauty that softens the edges of the bands sound. Tumi, front man, MC with a smile that infects smile's on audience members faces and lyrics that have you tilting your ear towards him to make sure you miss nothing. His easy, silver-tongued stylings are velvet-slick.

A gift, when like-minded musicians get together to create something unique, something that years of refining their musical leanings results in. Bass-player Dave draws his inspiration from bands like Herbie Hancock with the Headhunters. Tumi tells me he started writing out of the boredom that being an only child engenders. His inspiration is his life, the collective lives of his contemporaries and he writes exuberantly about the issues, with a creative twist that makes you sit up and take notice. His words seem to just pour out of him, free and easy. He finds inspiration in BLK Sonshine, another South African gem.

Volume got together through a series of attachments. Tiago and Paulo are both members of 340ml, they had seen Dave play and wanted to get together with him, while Tumi was looking for a drummer to MC over, he approached Paulo and the rest is... Volume.

Eric from Organix works as Volume's promoter and he's very excited about the band. He talks about the underground Hip-Hop scene, about the recent Open-Mind sessions that showcase new rap talent lets me know that Volume will be playing at Oppikoppi in September, some gigs coming up in Pretoria in the next month or two and to keep an eye out for them at The Bassline again.

This is roots music, South African jazz influenced-funk in a spoken word garden of delights. Check them out; don't miss what they have to offer. Turn up the Volume and let the groove creep right inside you.

[This review was also published on]

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