MusicSafari 9: Up from the Deep (Digital Album Review)

Up from the Deep


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up from the Deep is a compilation of selected live recordings from five concerts held in a World War II oil storage tunnel under Darwin (Australia) during the 2016 Tunnel Number Five Festival of Underground Music . This 2016 festival is a special event in which Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians from various musical paths gathered and made music together in a space deep in their shared land. The acoustic outcome is exquisitely beautiful.

Up From the Deep has 14 tracks featuring eight manikay (clan songs of the Yolngu people people in Northeastern Arnhem Land), two West Papua songs, and four instrumental pieces.

Aboriginal songmen Jason Guwanbal Gurruwiwi and Sebastian Guyundula Burarrawanga joined Sarah Hopkins (cello, harmonic whirlies, overtone singing), Anne Norman (shakuhachi), Ernie Gruner (violin), Anja Tait (violin), Netanela Mizrahi (viola), and Adrian Gurruwiwi (yidaki) to deliver the manikay. In six of these manikay, the instrumentalists created soundscapes that nurture the voice(s) and the meanings of the songs to enhance their beauty and to bring the musical experience to a deeper level.

A very special and moving moment happened when Guwanbal spontaneously sang a manikay “Look at the cloud formation rising up from Dhumara Garrimala” during the performance of Sarah Hopkins’ 1994 composition Remember the Joy. The pre-composed music and the manikay seem to blend into a magical whole.

The four instrumental pieces offer strikingly contrasting atmospheres. They were masterly created at the moment of performance in the tunnel. While Sea Sky (violin, viola, cello and shakuhachi) and Water Spirits (2 violins and viola) flow effortlessly along the soundscapes of the manikay , Dance! As the World Goes Mad! and Wartime Waltz are lively reminders of the resilience of Darwin during wartime.

Apart from the manikay and instrumental pieces, the earthy and heartfelt songs sung in Biak language (now officially replaced by Bahasa Indonesia in West Papua) performed by Henk Rumbewas added another dimension of sounds to musically enrich this compilation. Henk also briefly added his powerful voice in two of the manikay songs, Wheeling Seagulls and Green Sea Turtle, eliciting an excited response from the instrumentalists and the Yolngu songmen.

Up from the Deep is a special compilation that presents the musical traditions of Australia in a new perspective. Here, the artists met and created music spontaneously in a space deep within our land. Each artist draws from his/her musical experience to contribute to the process of music-making, bringing about magical moments in sound.

You can listen to all tracks of the album Up from the Deep at BandCamp.

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