West Australian artist Clint Bracknell has combined his passion for music and his native Noongar language to release an album that celebrates the region’s ecological creatures.
- Maatakitj is a Noongar musician and Professor of Indigenous Languages at the University of Queensland
- Noongar Wonderland integrates a decade of research with modern dance music
- Tracks celebrate local animals and the environment
It follows a multi-sensory stage performance of the same name at the Perth Festival this year.
Bracknell, a teacher of Indigenous languages, is also known by his affectionate nickname, Maatakitj, which translates to “long legs like a spear.”
“It’s a big kind of thing, I’ve been doing music since I was young, I’ve worked in all genres from country music to hip-hop and all places in between and I’ve never really hit the mark. goal and done something that I’m really proud of or I’m going to share,” Bracknell said.
“Over the last decade or more, I’ve really tried a lot of song traditions and found kind of a way to make the music more meaningful than the things I’ve done in the past.”
The album, Noongar Wonderland, comes after more than a decade of research and immersion in the Noongar language and song.
“It was informed by research more formally through Australian Research Council funding and my work at various universities and now at the University of Queensland,” he said.
preserve the language
The album is released in an endangered language to mark the start of the United Nations’ International Decade of Indigenous Languages.
Bracknell felt responsible by releasing the music in the language.
“I didn’t want to get into it too soon and I wanted to be really sure that what I was doing would be positive and not just selfish,” he said.
“That’s why I spent over a decade trying to be part of this journey with a whole group of people, including older people and more people in my peer group.
“It’s also about the country, figuring out how we can all work together and share something and keep something alive and strong.”
Bracknell said it was a conscious choice to embrace dance music for the album, and collaborated with ARIA Award-winning Australian musician Paul Mac.
“You can hear it, there’s the brilliance of Paul Mac,” he said.
“Having it as dance music was something that hadn’t really been done before, but was going to capture the same energy as a corroboree-style performance, because corroboree is all about the dance.
The songs celebrate the ecological value of kworlak (bulldog sharks), baamba (stingrays), dwerdawanart (dolphins), yornan (bobtail lizards), woordawoort (dragonflies) and demangka (groundwater) in the southwest of Western Australia .
“There’s a lot of kangaroo dancing and emu dancing and other creature dancing, but what about those other creatures that had a dance and aren’t doing any more,” a- he said.
“We started with the bull shark because we felt there should be something to not only bring attention to the bull shark, but also to increase respect so that we live more harmoniously with the bull shark.”