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After the excellent Sky Girl, Midnite Spares and Oz Waves comps, Efficient Space now bring us the little-heard recordings of three Yolngu songmen from Northeast Arnhem Land - Bobby Bunnungurr, Jimmy Djamunba and Peter Milaynga (d. 2007) - working in collaboration with Victorian musician Peter Mumme. Yolngu are the indigenous peoples of Arnhem Land in Northern Territory, Australia; their clans are the Marangu and Malabirr, the languages Djinang and Gannalbingu. Their songs are of instruction, story and ceremony.
A connection first initiated by Yolngu actor David Gulpilil, Waak Waak Djungi’s mid-90s recordings were preceded by years of respectful sharing of culture. Mumme explains that “the aim was to produce something that is new, not in the sense of a breakthrough, but what emerges from the combining of existing ideas”. What developed was sonically unique - sprawling vocal/electronic soundscapes and field recordings that reimagine the traditional songs of black crows and white cockatoos, sharing, creation spirits and of leaving and returning home to country. Spacious and patiently durational, the songs resound in a big land with a big story to tell.
On the 1997 Waak Waak Djungi album Crow Fire Music, these interpretations were assembled with traditional recordings and additional material from Sebastian Jörgensen and Sally Grice. Falling short of generating public interest, it became well known in the Yolngu homeland. Nearly two decades later, a CD copy filed away in the 3RRR FM library would prompt a three year investigation to meet the people behind the music.
"Waak Waak ga Min Min (Black Crow, White Cockatoo)" combines the previously unreleased "Gandi Bawong" with five contemporary versions from the original album, with a new cover painting by Bobby Bunnungurr. Tracing 1997 back to many millennia ago, this is a captivating window into the richness of Aboriginal culture and collaboration.
Patrick says: Efficient Space (AKA the mega label behind the fantastic Sky Girl comp) introduce us to the obscure brilliance of indigenous Australian troop Waak Waak Djungi with this retrospective set of their nineties output. Amid the beautiful new age twinkle of "Rainbow Serpent", "White Cockatoo" and "Black Crow" we find the motorik pulse of "Djambaku", Balearic house of "Gandi Bawong" and the spine tingling acid chug of "Mother, I'm Going".
A1. Rainbow Serpent
A3. White Cockatoo
B1. Mother, I'm Going
B2. Gandi Bawong
B2. Black Crow