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