Five months in a nationwide lockdown have proven particularly beneficial to Stellenbosch-based band, Spoegwolf, who, on 1 September, released their second album of the year. Wind is a combination of all of the best aspects of these Afrikaans alternative rockers: incredible instrumentals, carefully crafted lyrics, and a sound which is so uniquely Spoegwolf.
Wind is familiar enough. Any listener will be able to identify the artists from this new offering; but it is also distinct, unpredictable, and a clear demonstration of just how talented these musicians are. On each album there is something new – a progression as the artists explore new sounds and rhythms. The punk-rock sounding intro of “Londen (Volkleur)” is just one example of how the band keeps fans on their toes, never knowing what to expect from their diverse repertoire of skills. The band experiments with harmonies and choral vocals on songs like “Heen en Weer” and “Stem in die Wind”; with the latter featuring a powerful interlude with building drums and a combination of voices. The choral elements of the album culminate in “Slot van die Paarl”, Spoegwolf’s interpretation of a traditional church hymn.
Amongst these new features are familiar aspects which keeps fans coming back for more. Danie du Toit’s characteristic vocals and eloquent lyrics; his brother Moskou du Toit’s drumming form the rhythmic backbone of each of the songs; Albert van der Merwe on the bass guitar carrying the melody and tempo; and Chris von Wielligh’s powerful guitar and intricate piano playing – these are the sounds of Spoegwolf. Lead singer Danie du Toit demonstrates his range on the album with a number of songs featuring falsetto singing, particularly evident on the gentle and melodic “Gly”.
“Wind is a combination of all of the best aspects of these Afrikaans alternative rockers…“
Wind features more acoustic guitar than the band’s February release, “See”. The band’s unique sound is complimented by a jazzy and soulful saxophone, played by Hiram Koopman who lends his skills to the band and injects a sense of South African liveliness into everything he plays. Scattered amongst the songs are snippets of conversations between the band members, making fans feel as though they are in the room with the bandmates as the album is recorded.
This album feels more intimate than those that came before it, and songs like “Stroomop” and “Simonstad” envelope listeners with a comfortable quietness. There is an interesting sort of dichotomy in Wind – one of hope and heaviness. Swart Vere offers the lyrics “as mense soos monsters mekaar aanval” and Stem in die Wind admits “ek dink ek was te bang om gelukkig te wees”. Still, there are gentle elements of hope in lyrics like “elke keer as ek will opgee, sing jy uit die swart” on Uitsoek.
The album ultimately comes full circle; weaving seamlessly back into the opening instrumental, as only the best of concept albums do. This makes it easy to listen to the entire album on repeat.