Ngam­bala Wiji liWu­nungu

Shel­lie Mor­ris & the Bor­roloola Song­women ABC/UMA ★★★★✩

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews -

THE first re­lease in a se­ries of Song Peo­ples Ses­sions, govern­ment and NGO-funded col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween con­tem­po­rary and tra­di­tional Abo­rig­i­nal singers, twinned War­ren H. Wil­liams with the Waru­mungu Songmen of the Barkly/Ten­nant Creek re­gion of the North­ern Ter­ri­tory. The ARIA-nom­i­nated Wi­nan­j­jara drew at­ten­tion to the en­dan­gered lan­guage of the coun­try singer’s pa­ter­nal grand­mother. In the sis­ter al­bum Ngam­bala Wiji li-Wu­nungu (To­gether We Are Strong) Shel­lie Mor­ris teams up with the Bor­roloola Song­women to put the spot­light on the dis­ap­pear­ing Gulf tongue of her grand­mother, which is spo­ken flu­ently by fewer than 10 peo­ple. The al­bum shares the tem­plate of its pre­de­ces­sor, es­tab­lished by ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer/pro­ject cre­ator Pa­trick McCloskey and mu­sic pro­ducer/au­dio en­gi­neer Tim Cole. CD1 com­prises bal­lads, writ­ten and sung in Yanyuwa by Mor­ris with guid­ance and back­ing from lo­cal song­women, that cel­e­brate sto­ries, melodies and rhythms from her an­ces­tral clan. Am­bi­ent key­board washes and gen­tle elec­tronic beats mesh with strings, didgeri­doo and per­cus­sion to pro­vide at­mo­spheric beds that ac­com­mo­date per­fectly a mar­riage be­tween Mor­ris’s soar­ing voice and the oth­er­worldly har­monies of the song­women. In tracks

Ji­war­rmanji [The Wind is Blow­ing] and Ngabu­jiyu a-Kurija [Nanna Song], Cole in­ter­twines the con­tem­po­rary and tra­di­tional ele­ments to­gether with the skill of a mas­ter weaver. CD2 of­fers an an­thro­po­log­i­cal jour­ney, fea­tur­ing 58 short tracks con­tain­ing tra­di­tional song po­etry recorded by the 11-piece Bor­roloola Song­women.

Tony Hil­lier

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