Released on Bandcamp this past Friday, May 7th, You’re Not Crying We Are, is SWAK CATALOG’S latest two-track EP offering and “K-Hole Dramapiano for the kids”. A record label based in Cape Town, South Africa — SWAK is run by Aryu Jassika (Shaheen Jacobs) and Jumping Back Slash (Gareth Jones), “motivated by failure and fuelled by revenge”. “I don’t tend to intellectualise or conceptualise records before I make them. Eventually, I will figure out what it is that I am trying to say during the process and then I will start shaping the record accordingly. Although to be frank these concepts and ideas are kinda abstract”, says Jumping Back Slash (JBS) in a 2018 interview published on redbull.com with Angela Weickl titled Jumping Back Slash – A new approach to fun. I find myself chewing on his last statement — “although these concepts and ideas are kinda abstract” — while listening to You’re Not Crying We Are (YNCWA). Before one even arrives at the EP’s sonic landscape, its title already offers bountiful servings of abstract(ed) ideas and postulations by invoking a collective affective texture/mood of the times, and moreover, by how its languaging seems to signal at collective modes of care and working through grief; you’re not crying we are. We have been living/surviving/coping through drastically changed and still changing worlds for over a year now, with grief and loneliness flooding all of our lives in different ways.
Described as “a tribute to tears in the club and silent screaming in the Uber”, YNCWA’s first track was written and produced by Shaheen Jacobs and the second by Gareth Jones with both being mixed and mastered by their record label SWAK CATALOG. ‘Not Too High For This’ builds like a slow panic attack in the supermarket when they don’t get the vibe and ‘Never More Sad Than When I’m Finally Happy’ is JBS’ ode to Lexapro and cheap weed. I find that ‘Not Too High For This’ by Aryu Jassika — who describes their work as “approximations of brooding House and Techno strung through a continuum of intergenerational trauma” — sonically harkens back to the House music that dominated South African dance floors from the early to mid-2000s, “It’s You, It’s Me’s” distant chaotic cousin. The opening of “Never More Sad Than When I’m Finally Happy”, instantly transports me to Javelin’s song “Light Out” from their 2013 album Hi Beams. I think of the EP as a heartbeat of sorts. A heartbeat, sounding the rhythms of our collectively (and individually) grieving, grappling, overwhelmed and still yet trying to live despite the devastation and disaster. But also a heartbeat sounding the textures of the tongue in cheek chaos that comes with “making life” and sense of it as humans. I also think that in some ways You’re Not Crying We Are, like good science fiction should, begins to offer answers and lessons to be learned from the dystopia one could say we are currently living through.