Alan Maralung with Peter Manaberu, The World’s Musical Traditions, Vol. 4: Bunggridj-Bunggridj: Wangga Songs: Northern Australia

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Enigmatic, primal music whose roots run deep in the Australian bush.

The Australian aboriginal culture is unique, but then, given 40,000 years of isolation, that's only to be expected. These songs by Maralung, accompanied by didgeridoo, are in the wannga style of the Northern Territory, with plenty of improvisation, and a style that many believe to be ancient. It's enigmatic, primal music whose roots run deep in the Australian bush. Spare and unadorned, the music seems to offer a direct line to prehistoric times; it's easy to believe these songs would have had the same shape a thousand years ago or more. The sound is hypnotic, with the voice and the rhythm of the clapping sticks punctuated by the earthy, raw sound of the didgeridoo. There's a haunted, startling beauty to the sound, the folk music of a venerable culture beyond our understanding. This album might not help you understand the Aborigines more, but it does offer a glimpse of something different, enough to capture the imagination.