By guest writer Marinette

Just as the moon causes the tides to rise and fall, “Bleeding Moon” can cause a wave of emotions you never even knew you had.

The longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century, in July 2018, brought about the inspiration for the album. Riaan actually recorded the piano parts on 28 July, the day after the eclipse. Staring at our cosmic brother, Riaan penned down his feelings and introduced the ideal musicians to bring them to life. Albert Frost, Riku Lätti, Basson Laubscher, CJ Bergh, Wilken Calitz, Heinrich Wesson, Mark Louis Ellis and Jean Marais were the perfect blend of talent for the job.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact genre of this album, because it’s as diverse as the country it was written in. Everything from hip-hop, jazz, hard rock, desert blues and classical shows its face, making it a sweet treat for all tastes.

Riaan Nieuwenhuis
Photo by: Nicola Kruger
Riaan Nieuwenhuis
(Photo by: Nicola Kruger)

Not many South African musicians can boast five instrumental albums, but that’s exactly what gives Riaan Nieuwenhuis, a son of the local rock scene, his exclusive edge. In fact, his fifth (technically, sixth) studio album “Bleeding Moon” gives him the sole claim to this title.

Within the first notes of the opening number “Clarksdale”, it’s clear to see why Nieuwenhuis is known for his compositions. This song is as funk-laden as anyone can desire, with more swing than a southern Mississippi accent. Chico Muñoz and his trumpet transports the listener from the colourful streets of the Bo-Kaap to the southern states of the USA, and you can’t help but smile on the journey.

The emotional rollercoaster takes a sharp dip with “Declaration”, in which Albert Frost’s bendy guitar blues digs deep into the memories you’d wish to forget. This song is tinged with sadness, nostalgia, and yet, hope. Frost and Nieuwenhuis are a formidable force. When they perform together, the audience becomes hypnotised, to the point where you can hear a pin drop. This song is the personification of that force.

Few things go together on an instrumental rock album as piano and electric guitar. This is supposedly why Nieuwenhuis garnered the help of guitar titans like Frost and Basson Laubscher. The years-long brotherhood of Riaan and Basson form an astronomical sound, as the two feed off each other’s energy. You just have to give “Reminiscence” a listen to hear the proof.

Riaan Nieuwenhuis performing at Up The Creek 2020
Photo: Henry Engelbrecht
Riaan Nieuwenhuis performing at Up The Creek 2020
(Photo: Henry Engelbrecht)

As if the album itself is taking time to reminisce at the moon, the overall tempo slows down towards the end. The romance of “Boreas”, the fantasy of “Courtesy” and the gospel of “Certainty” all feel like the soundtrack of a moonlit walk by the waters of Paarl Dam. These songs can almost bring the listener to tears, stirring the same feelings as a sunset or the heartbreak of young love.

The changing tide of the album towards the end, drops the listener off at the beach of satisfaction, yet you cannot help to press play again. With each of his previous albums Mediator 1 & 2, “Instigator“, “Collaborator” and Reminiscence, the growth of Riaan as composer and performer are evident. However, there is something unmatched about “Bleeding Moon”, which is, in my opinion, his best work yet.

Find Riaan Nieuwenhuis “Bleeding Moon” on Spotify, Google Music and Apple Music. Follow him and his career on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube

Marley is the founder and owner of Small Town Music. Born and bred in Nelspruit aka Nelsparta. Marley loves music (rock being a firm favourite), tattoos, festivals, animals and South Africa. Self-taught photographer and writer.