Riku Lätti - Weirdo, but an original one
Riku Lätti - Weirdo, but an original one

Citizen   5/28/2001 
Eugene Goddard

(***** - Brilliant) 

If this new guy in Afrikaans contemporary music had done a decade ago what he is doing now, he would have been tarred and feathered and eventually hanged for all to see on Strijdom Square. 

No wonder it took time for Riku Lätti to emerge. This country's former privileged citizenry would not have tolerated him, with the "kappiekommando" standing guard over our moral values. 

But things have changed. The offspring of NP-voting folk have grown up into space cadets and, for them, Lätti is the quintessential new-age millennium artist. 

The last century was simply not ready enough for someone like Lätti. Thankfully, our society is not as repressive as it used to be. The result is the cultivation of wild fruit - and Lätti is one. 

For his growth, the fields were ploughed by Kerkorrel and Kombuis. Back then, all the anal people warned against "alternative" Afrikaans music as something distinctly communist. Remember, however, that our society as it used to be raped communism into a fall-guy word for everything evil. If you didn't brush your teeth you could have communist leanings. Because under capitalism everything is shiny. Not forgetting that the working class usually shout their slogans of revolt through grimy teeth. 

Picturing Lätti solely against the backdrop of Afrikanerdom would be severly limiting in understanding this brave new artist. Lätti, in fact, can be as atypically Afrikaans as his surname, and yet his beautiful lyricism will make any Afrikaans language purist foam at the mouth with ecstacy. 

His eclecticism is a porthole of multi-realm voyages; starkly driven home with a crystalline cosmos-sound on "WOKNAKWYF!", the CD partnering "Pleister". 

What we are talking about here is an artist with the potential to turn the brushing of his teeth into music. 

Of course, Lätti's enterprising dental soundscape on "Moet nooit die belangrikheid van goeie mond higiëne onderskat nie" is a solid kick in the teeth of any working-class hero. 

Needless to say, he doesn't make conventional sense. In fact, he has turned contemporary music on its head. "WOKNAKWYF!" is a pioneering work of art. It's an intstrumental mind-trip which opens up the purchase of "'n Pleister vir my Nerwe" to non-Afrikaners. 

This strange little brother to the first CD is very much in the tradition of Orb and won't go down well at a kerkbasaar. 

In comparison, the principal disc is normal. Compare to Steve Hofmeyer and company, however, you're still in for a brain-bender on "'n Pleister vir my Nerwe". 

Mixing reggae, jazz, balladeering and space rock and hip-hop and bitterkomix-style storytelling, "Pleister" is a much-awaited move against the current "Afrikaanse musiek" establishment. 

Lätti's lyricism is crip and clear; he writes about everything from television psychosis to cadillac cruising and that old favourite - love. He does not, however, write about heartfelt feelings like some misguided fool with watery eyes. Rather, he inks and shapes his feelings into composition with a remarkably deft hand for such a newcomer. 

Compositions like the epochal "Slaap" have a rhythm, skip, bounce, loop and thrash - a far cry from the usual saccharine drivel or half-assed revolt. 

Personally, I found every song unique. Some were immediately captivating. Others had to grow on you. If anything can be read into the cover and supplementary motifs - not forgetting the subtext of the title - then Riku Lätti is the strange mutation that PW Botha and his drones used to have nightmares about. 

Go listen for yourself. The first song contains what sounds like backward masking. A very subversive person, this is. 

He's weird, but is an original weirdo - which is why you should invest in his, this self-funded music. It will blow your mind. 

Otherwise buy it for your ouma.