Spinifex Gum Live at Sydney Opera House is a musical collaboration and unique Australian project by a collective of Indigenous and non-Indigenous creatives led by The Cat Empire’s Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill, and conductor Lyn Williams AM who directs the extraordinary Marliya of Gondwana Choirs – an all-female, all-Indigenous chorus from Cairns.
The album features guest vocalists Adam Briggs, Peter Garrett and Emma Donovan in the song cycle who individually perform with Marliya Choir in English, Yindjibarndi and Kala Lagaw Ya, reflecting the dramatic contrasts of the Pilbara region of northern Western Australia.
Spinifex Gum Live at Sydney Opera House is political and aspirational, exploring a mix of hard-hitting and challenging issues that are pertinent to all Australians of our time.
Briggs’ performance in Locked Up deals with the ongoing issue of institutional racism and neglect, whilst Peter Garrett sings Malungungu with the shell-shocked intensity of a ‘fly-in-fly-out’ worker in a world of ancient spirits. Emma Donovan’s reading of Tom Waits’ Make It Rain reaches a climax with its final verse performed in Yindjibarndi language.
Paired with the playful and celebratory story of Yurala, the youthful joy of Gawaliwarli or the beautiful connection of unity and friendship in the title track, Marliya, Spinifex Gum Live at Sydney Opera House is part protest, part celebration offering a deep and affecting musical experience.
The unique musical landscape of Spinifex Gum Live at Sydney Opera House comprises treated field recordings, programmed rhythms, organic instrumentation and above all, the overarching power of human voices, performing to a live audience and bearing stories crying out to be heard.
Originally written for the Gondwana Children’s Choir, the song cycle is a reflection of songwriter Felix Riebl’s visit to the mining towns and country of Australia’s remote north west where he witnessed the brutal reality of the Pilbara’s dual economy and history.
Working with Gondwana Choir’s Artistic Director Lyn Williams, Riebl wrote the incredibly raw yet powerful lyrics alongside Williams’ disarming and captivating compositions.
Spinifex Gum with Gondwana Choirs have released two critically acclaimed studio albums and performed at international arts and music festivals across Australia. Spinifex Gum Live at Sydney Opera House is now available in digital format on your favourite streaming platforms. For more information, visit: www.spinifexgum.com for details.
Spinifex Gum will also perform at Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl on Friday 9 April. For more information and tickets, visit: www.liveatthebowl.com.au for details.
Image: Spinifex Gum Live at Sydney Opera House (supplied)