Edi Niederlander - Dreamland



SA Rock Digest charts:
highest position: 1
weeks on Top 20: 14

Edi Niederlander


  1. Bye Bye
  2. Axis Mundi
  3. Spider Spins Again
  4. Didn't Mean To Break Your Heart
  5. Love Is The Dream Of The Soul
  6. Marathon Head
  7. Strong Women In Africa
  8. Funka Munka
  9. Higher Mind
  10. Undying Light
  11. Shine A Little Love


  • Edi Niederlander: Vocals, guitars, persussion
  • Nelson Barbosa: Bass, percussion
  • Kevin Gibson: Drums
  • Karen Rutter: Flute, drums
  • Matthew McKeon: Keyboards
  • Koos Nurenhout: Tabla loop, drum loop, percussion, keyboards
  • Nicola the Water-Bearer: Ululating
  • Derek Gripper: Viola, solkattu


After laying low for the whole of the '90's, Edi Niederlander is back with her long-awaited third album. And who but Edi could start her fresh new collection with a zippy little tune called 'Bye Bye'? But that's just the first of many surprises on 'Dreamland', a welcome return (to form) for one of South Africa's most respected and enduring artists. Edi's first two albums - 'Ancient Dust' (1985) and 'Hear No Evil' (1989) - are well known, admired, and a little rare, especially on CD. 'Dreamland' finds Edi drawing deep on the styles and spirit of those albums, and effortlessly fusing them with the sounds of this new century. The result is a joyful, jazz-flecked and diverse collection of Niederlander originals and a compelling, eclectic and consistently entertaining piece of work.

Producer Koos Turenhout built 'Dreamland' around Edi's distinctive guitar expertise, strong songs and versatile vocals (and he also contributed the odd keyboard solo and tabla loop!). But 'Dreamland' is essentially a wonderful group effort from the musicians with whom Edi chose to surround herself. Kevin Gibson (drums) and Nelson Barbosa (bass) underpin every song with energy and verve, Matthew McKeon adds some lovely keyboard touches, and Karen Rutter displays some wondrous flute skills on 'Bye Bye' and 'Love Is The Dream Of The Soul', and drums on 'Axis Mundi'. On instrumentals like 'Spider Spins Again' and 'Funka Munka', and the semi-rap workouts that are 'Love Is The Dream Of The Soul' and 'Marathon Head', these musicians are given full license and plenty of room to flex their skills around Edi's guitar sparks, giving 'Dreamland' a spacious, cathartic feel.

It's not all strident and sterk stuff though. Certain of these songs - 'Strong Women In Africa', 'Axis Mundi' (new age Baez), and the Hippie-clappie closer 'Shine A Little Love' - do tend towards that twee, earnest '70's SA folksy style and are only saved by Edi Nederlander's obvious sincerity and focus of purpose. In 'Strong Woman in Africa' ('We will make Africa strong') she also asks "Where is our story?"; and in 'Didn't Mean To Break Your Heart' Edi crosses her fingers as she promises: "I'll buy you whiskey, I'll buy you rubies, I'll take you to heaven, I'll take you to movies".

But listen to the bright and shiny 'Undying Light', which features Edi solo on guitar and vocals recalling the optimism and clarity of 'Ancient Dust', and it all starts to make sense. It's a song that one could imagine an awe-struck, outer space-bound Jodie Foster singing in the "musical version" of 'Contact'. 'Shine A Little Love' is an optimistic, end-of-album knees-up, followed by a "hidden" afri-trip-hoppy coda to round things off. On 'Marathon Head' Edi sings "Take me from this mental race, save my soul from cyberspace". It's obvious she still hankers after the old musical ways and styles, but 'Dreamland' confirms that Edi Niederlander can still make music that is relevant and contemporary. (8)

Stephen Segerman, SA Rockdigest #105, May 2001

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