Die Heuwels Fantasties – Wilder as die Wildtuin

2011-05-20 16:24
The release of Wilder as die Wildtuin saw the die Heuwels Fantasties soar to the top of the charts. And when you tune into it, the reason for the album’s success becomes apparent.

As with their magical self-titled debut album, Die Heuwels tap into a special blend of emotions that makes your heart swell, that makes you want to spread your arms, that makes you remember the past with a poignant mixture of regret and acceptance.

And it is this emotionally charged-without-becoming-overly-sentimental  aspect that has captured the hearts of their followers.

Almost every song by Die Heuwels Fantasties is tinged with undeniable and piercing nostalgia. On “Waar Die Hel Uitkom” Piere croons "ek kan net onthou hoe jy ook my hand vas wou hou / vat my terug donderbuis koop vir my tyd kan ek net onthou"  and although this motif of longing and looking back is at times moving it does become sadly overused in the context of the album as a whole.

But  it does not bother to the extent that it ruins the album.  The bittersweet resonance of "Heel Te Mal" launches the listener into the space the band imagines through their lyrics. In the mystical wilderness of Die Heuwels Fantasties one encounters wolves and silver streams, forgotten ragdolls and sunlight breaking over mountains.

Sometimes the lyrics can seem rather random.  Seemingly disconnected words follow into each other in close succession and while they do deliver a certain ‘feel’ they can also seem contrived – as if picked from the tree of deliciously textured Afrikaans words just for the sake of being textured and thus fun to sing.

The band’s signature synth-pop sound is still catchy as ever, but there does seem to be more emphasis on the group as a band with more guitar and bass support on tracks such as the titular "Wilder as die Wildtuin" and  sensitive acoustic number "Wind en Weer".

The album also boasts a string of interesting and slightly unexpected collaborations (Er...Coenie De Villiers springs to mind). Yet, whether the ‘bring all your friends’ idea actually adds anything of value to the album is difficult to say. Inge Beckman lends her remarkable voice to the sleekly produced "Modus Operandi", but the end result is rather underwhelming to say the least. Having Beckman’s pipes at your disposal and then giving her monotonous back-up vocals to sing just feels wrong to me.

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