Published Oct 23, 2015Electro-folk outfit Bosveld's debut LP Veldbrand both laments and praises the devastating powers of the natural world. Once a minimalist experiment by guitarist and songwriter Théan Slabbert and his partner, saxophonist Jeremy Mulder, Bosveld recently became a quintet with the addition of Pascal Delaquis, Philippe Charbonneau and JF Beauchamp. These additions of drum, bass and brass, the featured string septet on "Doors," and the female vocals backing — and often enveloping — Slabbert's tender choruses certainly mesmerize the listener in ways the duo could not, but throughout, Bosveld stays true to an electro-acoustic hybrid that delights by centering on strings and wind.
Veldbrand, the literal translation from the Afrikaans of "field of fire" or "wildfire," delivers songs like "For The Swans" and "Wait For Me" that border on lullabies. Far from putting the listener to sleep though, these songs leave one wide-eyed and parched for more. Though the sounds aren't as emotionally affective as those of a fiery natural disaster, this record's tracks balance beauty and anguish as efficiently as those on, say, Sun Kil Moon's Benji. "Back of Yr Mind" is sorrowful and uplifting all at once, and "Everything," featuring Olenka, is as rhythmically gorgeous as a wildebeest's dash to safety. Each track moves quickly into winding strings and nebulous synths that are punctuated with piano and flugelhorn, all echoing the title track with a sadness that hints at hope. (So Sorry)