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by Johann Smith / 13.05.2011

What Hunter Kennedy said poetically and beautifully, Ryno Velvet sings in plain Afrikaans. Ryno’s melodies are generally free of any metaphysical meditation. But with Bulletin he’s just pissed off. Which may come as a bit of a shock to those who know him from the happy-go-lucky-stylings of his singles.

But this is unpredictability, the so-called hallmark of a true artist, staying one step ahead of the market. Bulletin is a bit of a Simba Surprise. One the record company probably wasn’t expecting. Apparently on delivery of the final master, they showed him the door, despite having given the project a green light from the earlier demos he produced.

Essentially this independent release is a hard rock album that checks all the totalitarian tick boxes and it’s got “fuck you” written all over it. The guitars are up front and centre, left and right, but kept on a leash by some smooth production work. It sounds like Ryno might be building for a career as a stadium rocker. So it seems a little strange that the record company would refuse it. It’s loud angry and proudly Afrikaans. It fits on the shelf between Van Coke and Taxi Violence. Maybe there’s a surplus in that market. Maybe not.

Ryno Velvet

“Amsterdam”, the opening track, has no foreplay, guitars smash in and drums tumble after. The riff bears an uncanny resemblance to “Hysteria” by Muse, executed with Van Halen bombast. Ryno’s voice is distorted, angry, lyrics are violent it all ends as it began with a bang. Next up, “Holga” offers reprieve with catchier melody and finishes what Amsterdam started, the mood becomes optimistic.

“Moeilikheid” derails the vibe with funk complete with a wah-wah reminiscent of Isaac Hayes. But then in the middle we are reminded of his melodic capabilities. His greatest asset. Why he chooses to be a stomping hard-rock buffalo instead of graceful pop gazelle is kind of beyond comprehension. The bitter sweet melodies “Jy Verstaan Verkeerd” and “Heelwaarskynlik” are offset by some showy guitar playing. And that is a shame.

On this, his third album, Ryno has chosen to back himself up with some first-rate Durbanville musos, in retrospect he may’ve been better with a couple of amateurs. The band seems to rock out on auto-pilot and predictably a bit of the soul is lost.

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