Arno Carstens’ second Afrikaans project Sewe Sakke Hoop is brilliantly gentle

After the release of his first Afrikaans album Die Aandblom 13 back in 2016, Arno Carstens is back with Sewe Sakke Hoop, his second mother-tongue offering, and it’s a poignant exploration of his linguistic heritage.

Meaning ‘seven bags of hope’ in English, the five-track EP was born from a tumultuous backdrop of global and local changes. Speaking on the release, Carstens wanted the music to be, “A beacon of solidarity, reminding us that amidst the cacophony, hope remains the universal language that offers solace and understanding.”

Opener “Hoe Gaan Dit” is a warm and sentimental melodic composition – almost like a lullaby. In a way it’s surprising to hear something so softly optimistic from someone like Carstens, a bonafide mosh-rock icon. But then again, his solo work has always had a gentle quality to it.

Much of the EP recalls the sound of Carstens’ double singles “Erupt” and “Midnight” released three years ago during the Covid-19 pandemic. There’s no denying that these melodies, with their introspective resonance, find their roots in “Another Universe,” albeit renewed with the contemporary energy of an artist constantly redefining himself.

“Nagblind” has this driving rhythm that makes me feel like I’m on a road trip through the country, evoking the tender light of sunrise. Close your eyes and you’ll see what I mean.

Produced alongside Theo Crous, Fred Den Hartog and Dane Taylor, the EP delivers a rich sonic experience that complements its lyrical depth. Closer “Nou” is heart-wrenching, with it’s raw piano keys and muddled synths. It reminds me of Bon Iver, as Carstens roars with vulnerability, and euphoric electronics tingle in the background.

It’s a beautiful ending to this candid project about hope. With a reiteration of his musical and cultural roots, Carstens achieves brilliant authenticity, and a touch of empathy too. Close your eyes again.

Feature image courtesy of Deborah Rossouw.