Just by picking up phrases that float around Holland like confetti and throwing them back at the populace, Rooie Waas flit about, acting like court jesters to the oceans of unsmiling commuters on the Rotterdam – Amsterdam trains; and whisper the most banal thoughts back at people.
Now this is something else; something serious, something that can consider itself (in a light hearted moment) art. Something that can consider itself out there, and relevant and fucking on the nail; though I’d wager most people who hear Nu will try to dismiss this band’s work in an irritated “no time for this” manner. But that’s fine. Because Rooie Waas are taking on taboos and making their own slapdash, scratchy, annoying, onNederlands and human take on things. Rooie Waas have made something that the Dutch music world may not like. They’ve made an album that people have to think about. There’s no lekker achtergrond music here. This is no fucking borrel.
Nu is rammed, rather with a lot of thought provoking stuff, stuff spat out at us, without remit, without respite; often through the most simple suggestion and simple repetition. In fact the brilliance of this record is to leave all the difficult things unsaid, and when you realise they want you to fill in the blanks it may unsettle you. Nothing feels wasted, it’s pitched at a level where you can’t but help see the message. The lyrics of the title track are ones of some genius in this regard. “Nu is niet straks / nee, nu is niet net / nee, nu is nu /ja!” This might sound ridiculously childish but on one strange subliminal level Rooie Waas are tapping into some mad angst the Dutch have about their surroundings and how to act in them.
So, a subject that gets a lot of attention on this here LP is the meaning of “Dutch time” and how it works alongside “Dutch behaviour”. Like some dog with a chew toy, the band gets every ounce of satisfaction in deconstructing this new obsession. The Dutch, in my experience, are mad on behaving. They love it. They like to behave as a substitute to well, just making all the terrible cock ups the rest of us make in our lives. If cock ups occur then behaving as if it didn’t happen is the easiest thing to do. I’m not looking to slag anyone off, of course, there’s no hidden agenda... but that’s just the way it is. Knowing what is appropriate, what is fucking NETJES, how to manage time in the same way the water table is managed. That’s the rule here. God created the World but the Dutch created Holland. And this is what Rooie Waas are trying to upset.
Just by picking up phrases that float around Holland like confetti and throwing them back at the populace (a lot of the tracks have these phrases in the titles, such as Raar, Nu Niet, Doe Niet Zo Moeilijk) Rooie Waas flit about, acting like court jesters to the oceans of unsmiling commuters on the Rotterdam – Amsterdam trains; and whisper the most banal thoughts back at people. And unsettle them, or irritate them. It’s similar to what journalist Rob Rieman wrote recently about the “tyranny” of the use by the Dutch of the word leuk. An overuse of one word until it starts to encompass so many, too many meanings; rendering those meanings useless, rendering those who use it unable to see subtle differences in meaning, how the word has been over used, or even caring that it has. Well, Rooie Waas are putting this notion into sonic action. And unlike Rieman’s piece, there is an alternative, and it may be uncomfortable, but Rooie Waas look for the listener to act, question the words, and fill in the blanks, and maybe look at things here in a different way.
And the way this record sounds... let’s not forget that. The opener Doe Niet Zo Moeilijk! (Don’t Make Things So Difficult) is on one hand an astonishing news broadcast as well as being some weird couch session with a punk psychiatrist. Here, Holland’s obsession with being normal has been seized by Rooie Waas, and – very much in the manner of Sven the depressed fisherman when told to seize life – wrestled to the ground, pinned by the throat and strangled to death. Ho yuss. This is a superb track, dubby, gloopy synth noir, nodding to D.A.F. Adding the oriental instrumentation is a true, “bull in the china” shop touch.
Regardless of the “language barrier” you need to get this. Didn’t stop you grooving onto D.A.F. did it?