1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Mel Botes”

Stormsee – Mel Botes

Oomblik Van Waarsin

Oomblik Van Waarsin

Long before we had Stormzy, we had ‘Stormsee’. And while Stormzy is a rapper, ‘Stormsee’ is a song from 2001. It was the second track on Mel Botes’ excellent ‘Oomblik Van Waarsin’ album and would give him a number 8 hit on the SA Rock Digest charts with the song spending 5 weeks on the charts.

The title of the song, which translates as ‘Storm Sea’, is at odds with the intro as it starts off calmly with Botes’ borrowing Anton Goosen’s voice to speak-sing over a mellow piano sound. This is not the sound of a storm, but much more a calm ocean with barely a ripple in sight. It could easily be an Afrikaans song by John Oakley-Smith at this point. But you are not too long into the track before you feel the storm coming as the song suddenly builds up to a crescendo as Botes is joined by a female backing vocal track and his voice takes on a rougher edge. Suddenly you are caught up in a brief maelstrom of sounds as guitars begin to swirl around the piano which starts to make its own waves.

You are barely into this sudden change in tempo when you find yourself in the eye of the storm as things return to a calmer, quieter sound. Again this only lasts for a short time before it builds again and you find yourself being blown from side to side once more, before the storm subsides, calm returns as the song fades out.

While there are the peaks and troughs in the song, it never becomes as chaotic as a storm in real life. It may be about a storm, but there is no loss of control as Botes steers his ship through the track with the confidence of an experienced captain.

Where to find it:
Oomblik van Waarsin – Mel Botes, July 2001, Janus, SELBCD 387

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Reënvoëls – Mel Botes

Oomblik Van Waansin - Mel Botes

Oomblik Van Waansin – Mel Botes

Mel Botes’ first impact on the local music scene was in the early 90s with a rock opera called ‘David’s Confessions’. A good few years later (in 2001 in fact) he released the critically acclaimed ‘Oomblik Van Waansin’ which contained the beautiful ‘Reënvoëls’.

Comparisons to Pink Floyd, Dire Straits and Piet Botha seen in some reviews are rightly justified as there is that Mark Knopfler-y guitar floating around a big and slightly esoteric Floyd sound while Botes gruff delivery of the Afrikaans lyrics are not that far from Botha’s (although I would add that there are shades of Akkedis’ Dennis Brothers in the vocals).

‘Reënvoëls’ (no relation to Tom Waits ‘Rainbirds’ which appeared on his ‘Swordfishtrombones’ album) soars and flies across vast landscapes of sound and I can’t help feeling that, despite the rain that these voëls are meant to herald, this a a dry desert land. Perhaps it is the growl in Botes voice that suggest a dry throat, or desolation sound that the guitars bring to the track.

The song came a little while after the Voëlvry movement, but undoubtly owes something to that movement. Voëlvry set the voëls free to fly and soar and Mel Botes latched onto that freedom perfectly to create this great piece of Afrikaans rock. The song was voted the 40th best of 2001 by The South African Rockdigest.

Where to find it:
Oomblik van Waarsin – Mel Botes, July 2001, Janus, SELBCD 387

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