Change, however subtle, is almost always a good thing in music. Sticking to a good recipe might sell albums, but doesn’t really spark the creative juices (Bon Jovi, take note).
And those juices certainly flow thick and fast on Reanimation (Warner), rockers Linkin Park’s impressive multimedia reworking of their massively popular Hybrid Theory album. In charge is MC and producer Mike Shinoda, who takes the hits and gives them a fresh new sound and identity (and oddly abbreviated titles) with the help of a gallery of guests, including Korn’s Jonathan Davis on 1Stp Kloser, Staind’s Aaron Lewis on the dreamy Krwlng, Kutmasta Kurt and Black Thought. The original guitars fade into an electronic base with variations of techno and hip-hop beats mixed with the vocals. Good and powerful stuff.
Locally, The Awakening have released their fifth full-length album, Roadside Heretics (Intervention Arts). An outlet for the talents of singer, producer and songwriter Ashton Nyte, The Awakening started as a gothic act in 1995, but have evolved splendidly along the way. As Nyte by himself dipped into glam rock and ambient sounds, The Awakening have not stood still and now thrust out confidently with a harder, rougher sound that still sports its gothic roots.
Nyte’s voice has more power and texture than ever before, especially on hard-rock tracks like Maker, but with his trademark deep, atmospheric sound on the slower (and darker) songs. Lyrically his songs are poetic and meaningful; more than many bands can manage. And to top it all, the sleeve design (shown here) is a work of art in itself.
Human Conditions: Richard Ashcroft (Virgin)
The second solo album of this singer and guitarist, formerly of British act The Verve, is a mightily serious collection of songs; weighty and touching without being too overblown. Ashcroft philosophises (sometimes a bit self-importantly and mysteriously) about life, the universe and everything. It’s not too exciting and certainly won’t be one of the memorable albums of this year, but is still enjoyable in a laid-back, languid way. — Riaan Wolmarans
KB: Beautiful Vibrations (Universal)
This sensuous, beautiful and hip actress from e.tv’s Backstage has released her debut CD, with the help of hit kwaito-producer Gabi le Roux and Terry Pinane. Keabetswe Motsilenyane, also known as KB, is not new to the music industry. She was once with a group from Mmabatho called Crowded Crew. She has made certain that her first release is infused with all the forms that fascinate today’s youth. Latino-house sounds, R&B and a less dominating inclusion of kwaito are all made to interrelate. The title track and O a Lla are the two songs that have deservedly received much airplay and feature at lively parties around the country. — Reggy Moalusi
Flower in the Rain: Nibs van der Spuy (Sheer)
This gifted acoustic guitarist of Landscape Prayers fame cites the inspiration for this album as the contrasts in culture, people and more as observed on road trips through South Africa. It’s a simple and stirring mix of instrumental and vocal tracks (at times, though, Van der Spuy’s voice seems too thin to lend substance to the songs). Esteemed guests include Logan Byrne (bass), Brendan Jury (viola) and Ant Crawthorne-Blazeby (violin). — RW