After a fantastic summer of festival shows, Lisa and Martin are now in Australia working with Indigenous Australian performance group The Black Arm Band Company, coming together for a unique project that will explore place, identity, culture and the preservation of language.
The two musical ensembles, from opposite sides of the world, have a similar approach – both perform and record in their respective country’s historical languages. For 9Bach, it is the Welsh Language; and for The Black Arm Band Company, it is the many tongues of the Australian Aboriginal people.
9Bach’s Lisa Jện , and Martin Hoyland have travelled to Australia to spend a month with members of The Black Arm Band Company, first in Melbourne, then in the Northern Territory region of Papunya, and then finishing off with a public performance at The Theatre Royal in Castlemain.
It is hoped that this experience will lead to a collaborative project which will be staged as part of the River of Music event at the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad in the UK.
The global decline of world languages is endemic and rapid. According to UNESCO, languages disappear at a rate of one every two weeks, so it is significant that 9Bach will be joining the Black Arm Band on this project, as melding traditional language with contemporary music injects new life and purpose into endangered tongues, bringing them to new audiences, and raising awareness of their existence.
Lou Bennett of The Black Arm Band says the collaboration marks an important move forward in the post-Colonial process. She says, “As an Indigenous person of Australia, I see language retrieval as a basic human right. It is a way that we can look at the past, at the global effects of Colonialism on us as human beings, and I see it as a healing process. [Through this collaboration between The Black Arm Band and 9Bach] we can make a really important connection between human beings from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres
Just before leaving Wales, Lisa Jen said “We’ll be leaving Wales soon to meet The Black Arm Band, and we can’t begin to describe how this almost feels unreal. We can’t wait to do all the things we love in life – all at once, with people we respect,…sing, make music, learn and share cultures, language, and travel to different parts of Australia, see what they represent, an how special it is.”
Formed in 2005 The Black Arm Band Company is an award-winning group comprised of Indigenous Australian singers, musicians and songwriters.
To date, the group have toured regionally, performed at major cultural events, such as the Sydney Festival, and have staged three major productions: murundak (2006), Hidden Republic (2008) and dirtsong (2009).
The Black Arm Band has comprised a who’s who of Austrlain Indigenous music including Jimmy Little and Archie Roach, Lou Bennett, Shellie Morris, Bart Willoughby, Dan Sultan, Dewayne Everittsmith, Emma Donovan, Mark Atkins, Shane Howard and Ursula Yovich. http://www.blackarmband.com.au/
New songs have been worked on since the start of the year, and although between us we live in Bethesda (North Wales) Cardiff, and London, (we call it the bemusing triangle) somehow with the help of technology, and the odd quick rehearsal in a festival dressing room, we have been working on some ideas.
Melodies have been sung, harmonies added, grooves and riffs tried out, added, taken away, streched, made heavier, and returned distorted and twisted, and we’ve been experimenting with some new ideas to progress our sound from our debut album.
The time did come, in mid August for all 5 of us (and Mirain the secret 6th member) to be present in a rehearsal room at the same time, with the aim of coming out with at least 1 song. We managed it, and we debuted “ Pa Le Mae Nghariad i” at Green Man Festival, and then played it again at the Noordezon Festival, in Groningen, Holland, a few days later. We also managed to work on 2 other songs, which are works in progress, and will be finished soon. There are even rumours of us getting together again more often, and coming up with another 7 songs, which might just be enough to record our 2nd album.