(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
If you are like me and are even remotely tapped into alternative music from outside of the U.S., then I’d wager you’ve encountered this band at some point. This band being Pretoria, South Africa’s Ruff Majik of course, a band I discovered a year or two back.
Even though it’s a claim now hard to prove, I have reviewed nearly all of the band’s earlier releases, so I damn sure was not gonna miss this one.
The music created by Johni Holiday (guitar, vocals), Jimi Glass (bass) and Benni Manchino (drums) – aka Ruff Majik – is impressive. To be honest, it is quite stripped down and raw, but only in a fantastically executed way.
Burgeoning with bluesy fuzz and garage rock elements throughout, the trio traditionally record their efforts in a single take. No breaks, no overdubs or studio tricks… nothing but the three in the studio with whoever else. In this case, Evert Snyman, and knocking the shit out live.
What they have collectively knocked out here is ‘The Hare And The Hollow’ and whatever you do, do not call it an EP. The guys are adamantly clear about that aspect, going as far as to issue the following statement on their Bandcamp page:
“This is not a 3 track EP. it is part one of a four part album called ‘Seasons’, which will be released piece by piece at the change of the season, every season, over the coming months.”
That approach is somewhat similar to the last series of studio offerings from the lads, the trilogy of ‘The Fox’, ‘The Bear’ and ‘The Swan’. Now here we are with yet another creature-related title, capturing the Ruff Majik ruffians bringing down the house with their laying out a Lo-Fi, live-in-your-face smack down of scorching rock and roll.
Groove-generating guitars wail and wallow about, emitting thickened riffs once “Harpy” rolls out. Kit-smashing drums and thundering bass lines soon meld into one rutted groove as Holiday‘s nasal inflected vocals narrate their tale. The vibe is akin to one derived from say, Black Sabbath-meets-The White Stripes… a bit of doom, a bit of blues.
With the follow-up cut “Gone Down In The Woods Today” not far behind, things quickly go South by way of some heady flavoring. Mellow, melodic emanations nearly hypnotize you, but right before you go under, everything explodes with a flurry of tumultuous drums. The retro-vibe fury is enough to shudder your soul as this superbly engaging selection strikes. The isolated bass lines found rumbling about two-thirds of the way through are simply solid as stone, but what comes after is truly surprising.
“Breathing Ghosts” takes on a life of its own, a dizzying, blistering foray into music teetering on thrash territory. It’s just enough to really throw you for a loop when these dudes unexpectedly slam on the brakes, taking things headlong into some amazing fuzzed doom. From there they alternate between sultry grooves and explosive, metallic-edged intensities. Eventually they begin to taper things down… lesser and lesser, lighter and lighter as they go. Things eventually devolve down and ultimately come to an end with some resonating feedback.
And there you / we have it! Well, kind of, because you really don’t have-have it, you know, like own it, until you purchase it. You can do that immediately at this location or if you need some aural convincing, stream Ruff Majik‘s “The Hare And The Hollow” via Bandcamp below.