Sounds of AustraNesia Debut CD

Will Kepa, a talented young Torres Strait Islands’ multi-instrumentalist and producer, has been at the hub of the far north Queensland Indigenous music scene for the past decade. If Sounds Of AustraNesia, an album he co-produced, engineered and created most of the instrumentation for, is his finest achievement to date, plaudits must also go to fellow singer, music educator and director Rubina Kimiia, whose Samoan and Cook Islands-influenced choral arrangements are an outstanding feature of a project that brings together some of Cairns’s finest Indigenous musicians of Torres Strait Islander, Aboriginal, Polynesian and Melanesian descent. The 14 tracks exhibit admirable harmony amidst diversity while giving voice to original music from each artist with the universal theme of ‘roots’. The soul-stirring vocals of the AustraNesia choir are woven into the fabric of the compositions – from Aboriginal singer-songwriter Troy Brady’s arresting opener ‘Grateful’ to his partner Trevelyn’s concluding funky gospel spectacular ‘Cry Free’. In between highlights include Kimiia’s ‘Heavenly Teardrops’, which features a spectacular choral intro and some excellent log drum playing. The choir interrelates brilliantly with lead vocals and Kepa’s well-constructed instrumentation on Nicole Lampton’s Vanuatu-inspired song ‘Nee Mah Tah’. Other tracks, such as Rochelle Pitt-Watson’s ballad ‘Mother Ailan’ and fellow Torres Strait Islander Danny Bani’s ‘Bigger, Better, Stronger’, pack soul/RnB punch.

By Tony Hillier