The Real Voice of Australia

By Hasted, Nick | The Independent (London, England), July 24, 2009 | Go to article overview
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The Real Voice of Australia


Hasted, Nick, The Independent (London, England)


The Black Arm Band help us to remember the crimes against Aborigines, says Nick Hasted

When the Black Arm Band take the stage at WOMAD tonight for the multi-media performance Murundak, they'll bring an ugly, buried chunk of Australian history with them. The 28-piece, mostly Aboriginal collective were named to embrace the "black arm band view of history" ex-Australian Prime Minister John Howard derided in 1996; to admit and explore the crimes committed by white Britons and Australians against the Aboriginal population. But archive film of civil rights struggles is mixed with music meant to be insistently redemptive. Horns, strings, Mark Atkins' didgeridoo improv, and the traditionally painted Gapanbulu Yunupingu and George Rrurrambu will fill the stage. It should be a landmark performance from a culture left battered and invisible for over a century, whose strictures mean musicians aren't supposed to talk of their work. Music and images will do it for them tonight. Nor is the Black Arm Band meant to rest there.

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