ALBUM REVIEW: Riaan Nieuwenhuis – Collaborator

The twenty-first-century generation is lost in the superficial realm of ones and zeros. Straight-jacketed in digital constructs of disposable information and media; deafened by the white noised delusions of social media, blinded by the mirrors of self-importance and worth. Our fingers tips have been shaved down to the bone in the usage of keypads and camera buttons, unknown to the feeling of an analogue product opposed to digital streaming and download. As the online revolution grasps the modern age more and more, we find ourselves with less material in our hands as our lives and creative expressions lies up in the cloud. Yet nothing smells more real than a freshly opened CD or Vinyl, nothing sounds as fresh the first time that needle or laser transfers those sounds from material into sonic vibrations chanting through the room, vibrating in your veins, pulsating in your chest, transcending your mortal brain into a realm of infinite sound; completely captivated.

The first time I spoke to Riaan Nieuwenhuis about writing an article for his latest album “Collaborator”, the first thing he did was insist I have a copy of it in my hands before I listened to it online. My appreciation for Riaan and his record was instantly confirmed, and three days later the courier company arrived with my parcel; the ecstasy of the listening process consumes my intentions.

I’ve always found that the artwork and leaflet set the entire aesthetic of a record. It’s colors, fonts, and layouts visually interpret the album’s sound into an image. The personal aspects of Collaborator stand on its cover, with its rustic gold complexion filtering the beautiful hands and people that participated in the creation of its work.

The instrumental album unveils with the track “Coordinates”. Kicking in with a bar of drums inducing a pleasant introduction of guitar melodies masked in overdrive and distortion, the tracks builds into arrays of classic rock n roll found in the sound and introduction of the legendary Hammond, found harmonizing throughout the album in tight timing with hints of punk influenced interpretation compiled in distant octave chords, riffs, bound together in groovy hard rock beats held together by the drummer.

The album continues in a blended hand of good old fashioned rock, suited among the portraits of blues rock, punk, classic rock guitar solos and effects, metal and hard rock. Instantly reminding me of the likes of Lightning Bolt, the lack of vocals are compensated with beautiful melodic sounds of guitar leads. “Burnside” introduces the enchanting wine of the harmonic, playfully singing along with the high notes of the lead guitar melodies and rhythm sections.
Collaborator holds distinction in creatively integrating modern rock with the sound of the old school rock legends.

I mentally portray Riaan as more of an orchestral compositionist opposed to just a songwriter. The construction of Collaborator is filled with nothing less than rises and falls, infinite melodic nostalgia, open drums beats held in perfect velocity, crunching guitars and serenading sounds. My appreciation for this album lies in the structures of the songs. In this day and age we rely on the vocalist to draw us in and catch us with quirky phrases and lyrics; thus for Riaan to be able to create Collaborator, to have the ability to compose and induce quick changes that can keep the listener enthralled and transfixed on the music throughout the record, proves the dissection is immaculate and the company is good.
With the combination of Riaan’s genius backed with his team of Jean Marais (drums), Heinrich Wesson (guitar) and Jaco Goosen (bass), as well as guest artists such as  Rob Nagel (Blues Broers) on harmonica, Basson Laubscher (Blues Broers and The Violet Free Piece) and Niel Smit (The Parlor Vinyls) on electric guitar, Collaborator will take you through the motions of energetic to moody, touching you on the surface as well as take you deep into your mind. Without a doubt, it will get you dancing as you reminisce and pay homage to Rock n Roll.
I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy:

CDs: Mabu Vinyl, Bothners Stellies and iTunes Studio

For the ones and zeros:
Digital purchase:
 iTunes and Bandcamp
Stream: Soundcloud, Youtube
Info: Facebook



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