1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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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

Hear here:


Cape Axe – Jorge Carlos

Cape Axe – Jorge Carlos

Cape Axe - Jorge Carlos

Cape Axe – Jorge Carlos

The “axe” part of the title of this song suggests some sort of thrash metal extravaganza, and yes, there is an element of this in ‘Cape Axe’, an instrumental piece by Argentinian-born musician Jorge Carlos. But it’s the ‘Cape’ in the title that tells you this is not going to be a full on aural assault. Once you get south of the Karoo, you seem to find a different attitude to life, a more relaxed air.

The juxtaposition of ‘Cape’ with ‘Axe’ is what makes this piece so interesting. Clocking in at over nine minutes, the song ebbs and flows between pounding waves of roaring guitar and Jean Michel-Jarre-y trippy synth interludes. It is an opus magnum of rock/dance/chill that, draws you in from the first noodling keyboard and acoustic guitars to the pounding drums and air-guitar inducing licks. Lose yourself in this, it may just be the most enjoyable 9 minutes you spend today.

(P.S. If you are not a Floyd purist, try playing ‘Cape Axe’ at the same time as Pink Floyd’s ‘Careful With That Axe Eugene’ for some extra trippy effects. The version from the Live in Pompeii concert is particularly good.)

Where to find it:
Trip Of Africa – Jorge Carlos (1998), NebulaBOS, NEB 0115

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