Two years removed from his last effort 'Collaborator', RIAAN NIEUWENHUIS offers 'REMINISCENCE', a collection of previously unreleased material. NIEUWENHUIS is a veteran of South Africa’s music scene and is a veteran of the music community who possesses a girth of talent with a seemingly limitless capacity for composing music. DELTA BLUE, THE VIOLENT FREE PEACE, AMAFIST, are just a few of the many projects that this virtuoso has been connected to. That said it stands to reason that NIEUWENHUIS would be in possession of some pieces that have escaped the opportunity to be heard by the public…until today.
'Reminiscence' is effectively a musical experience that is comprised of three acts and an epilogue. Each section when taken in together provides a summation of the musical diversity NIEUWENHUIS exemplifies and has become synonymous with.
Act I opens the album with a lo-fi aesthetic that incorporates a trip-hop vibe with each of the first three tracks contributing a unique flavour. ‘Silk’ is the first track on the list that is energetically ambient and bounces with an infectiously crisp “boom-bap” rhythm that dressed to the nines in a slick urban couture. ‘Cruising’ follows with a darker tone that moves into the first act’s closure in ‘The Point’.
Act II sheds much of the trip-hop aesthetic but maintains the ambience, space and musicality. ‘Summertime Afternoon’ and ’22-6’ present two stark contrasts in sound with the former a lush desert rock downtempo number and the latter bearing a more abstract veneer. ‘First Out’ closes the middle act in exotic fashion with a delectable Eastern influenced acoustic flourish that flows into a rock trot with ease.
Act III maintains the ambience but adds an edge that is unforgiving but musically edifying. The act opening of ‘Paracaida’ is menacingly beautiful, brooding, but open and spacious. Lead single ‘The Black One’ adds an angst that spices the album up and fits perfectly before the act closing ‘Indurate’ which could have easily been a cut from 'Collaborator'.
Closing the album is a bluesy solo piano number by the name of ‘Namib Blues 2’ a direct nod to an earlier piece that would be familiar to fans and followers of RIAAN NIEUWENHUIS.
NIEUWHENHUIS has an artistic vision that’s woven into the very fabric of his works and influences every facet of this record in particular. Obviously these songs would have placed themselves amongst prior releases from NIEUWHENHUIS but one of the defining and endearing aspects of compiling them here is the experience of placing these tracks within the timeline of prior releases. 'Reminiscence' is a testament to a mind rapt with appreciation and love for the art of music and will be an immediate classic and favourite for those who share this conviction and even for those who don’t.
Russell Miller is the front-of-house/monitor engineer for Red Gate Sound & contributes reviews and an occasional snarky op-ed here at UNDERGROUND PRESS. If the music has a strong melody, a drive, or ambition chances are that it’ll have my attention. Knowledge. Follow Russell on Twitter and InstagramCheck out his tunes at SoundCloudWebsite: soundcloud.com/arkayem