Imagine two birds singing. Their clear, resonant calls sit effortlessly on the air. Two songs are clearly distinguishable, but their sounds intermingle. One bird is a plover, the other an owl. They sit close by one another, heads cocked, listening. A gentle breeze ruffles the feathers around their necks.
This image is perhaps the best way to describe Hand to Earth,a unique and beautifully poised collaboration between Yolŋu songman Daniel Wilfred, Korean-born vocalist Sunny Kim, and trumpeter and composer, Peter Knight. While I have worked with Wilfred for many years, recording the songs and stories of his ancestral homeland, I have never quite heard anything like this. It is a diverse gathering which seems unprecedented within Australian music.
Sunny Kim, Peter Knight and Daniel Wilfred. Photograph © Sung Hyun Sohn
Yet while Kim’s rich vocalisations have been shaped by collaborative work with musicians from Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, the United States and now Melbourne, and Knight’s floating trumpet notes and electronic crackles are inspired by the minimalism of Brian Eno and Jon Hassell, it would be wrong to consider Hand to Earth...