Earlier this year we introduced you, the reader, to Hanru Niemand. An Afrikaans folk musician and songwriter that hails from the Boland in the Western Cape. His last album “Kreeftegang” was a neat little package of Afrikaans folk that took you on road trips.
With “Opgrawings vir ‘n Lugkasteel” we are hearing a whole different Hanru Niemand. The title loosely translates to ‘excavations of an air castle’ (‘air castle’ is a term used for ‘pipe dream’ in Afrikaans). The album was produced by the talented and wholly enigmatic Riku Lätti under his music label, Die Wasgoedlyn Musiek. Final mixing and mastering were done by Willem Möller, an equally impressive musician who toured as Meneer Volume during the famous Voëlvry tour and works as a copywriter and music arranger in the Mother City these days.
Just that alone brings the quality out of Hanru’s voice. The psychologist by day should make music full time (in the ultimate world) but the studios of Die Wasgoedlyn Musiek truly captured what I have heard already in Hanru’s previous albums – his soul. “Freaky Joe” which is actually an English song. And his voice is as pleasing in English as it is in Afrikaans. Almost Simon & Grunfukel vibes that I feel when I hear Hanru sing in English.
“Land van Kaïn” is also a very interesting song if you have read the Old Testament in the Christian bible and the time of Cain. Two songs that are also making a turn again are “Gert Volk Nel“, “Kreeftegang Wals“.
“The A-Side (Voetstoots) contains songs that I perform live quite regularly. The idea was to record the music in a way that’s true to my live sound. As such, the guitar and vocals were recorded simultaneously, contrary to the current approach, which calls for tracks to be recorded separately and layered together afterwards. Some of these tunes have been recorded on previous albums, but I wanted to lay down versions thereof that capture my live performance sound – solo, just me, my guitar and my harmonica,” says Hanru. Which is on record, soothing to listen to. Where is my red wine?
The songs that were recorded in this way are “Kreeftegang Wals”, “Avis Tannie”, “Gert Vlok Nel”, “Land van Kaïn”, “Worcester Woorde”, and “Verlange”. Hanru’s loyal fans will recognise these songs like those that are requested by audiences on a regular basis.
The stories this man tells through his songs is almost reading a favourite book – it never gets old. And since 2003 he has been making a name for himself.
The “B Side” of the album (Ruïnes) brings something completely different to the table. It contains four brand-new tracks – “Freaky Joe”, “Morsige Momsen”, “Tiran”, en “Die prinses se lied”. “Each of these songs is centred around a protagonist who finds themselves in some sort of trouble. Here I play alongside a series of wonderful musicians who each bring a special dimension to the music,” Hanru enthuses.
And the B-Side is truly what makes this all stand out besides Hanru himself. I truly recommend “Opgrawings van ‘n Lugkasteel” to anyone who enjoys good South African music but if you are a fan of harmonica and guitar then this is truly for you.