• Garrangali Band return to the scene with sophomore album One Voice (Supplied)Source: Supplied
North-East Arnhem Land's Garrangali Band return to the scene with their track One Voice - a dedication to the Homeland movement and staying on Country.
Rachael Hocking

9 Oct 2020 - 4:03 PM  UPDATED 9 Oct 2020 - 4:43 PM

The twelve members who make up bush group Garrangali Band come from Yolŋu clan groups across Arnhem Land, and say it's their connection to one another and their Country which inspired their latest song, One Voice.

Makungun Brendan Marika, the band's keyboardist currently based at Baniyala outstation in the region's North East, told NITV News the song is about the importance of staying connected and knowing where you come from.

"I'm from Yirrkala... so sometimes I feel alone here. But I feel like I'm always part of my family even though they're not here with me," he said.

One Voice - which is also the title track from their upcoming album - was borne after Traditional Owners shared concerns about the negative affect life in townships was having on community. 

"A lot of issues, relating to drugs and alcohol... and there's a lot of division between family groups and family members," Makungun said.

"What they're missing out is Homeland - Homeland is how we relate to the land and the seas, and the surroundings, and how we have that kinship. Without the land we don't have that kinship between groups."

The album slated for January 2021 will mark the band's sophmore return, staying true to their 'saltwater ska' and reggae sound which has become a signature in many Top End communities.

Makungun says the album opens differently to their self-titled debut - introducing songs with traditional yidaki and clap sticks which are a testament to their Manikay, or songlines, before moving onto their more contemporary tracks.

"It talks about connections to land, and connection to our surrounding and environment," he said.

"We wanted to make the sound traditional, make it as natural as it can be."

The album's artwork depicts Baru the crocodile protecting its nest - a reflection of the band's name which means 'home of the crocodile'.

One Voice will also be the first album new drummer and Makungun's 21-year-old son, Sean Marika, makes an appearance on.

"He was a little boy for the first album, so this is a real celebration - I love to see young people getting into music," Makungun said.

"They say music is a universal language, and to collaborate that contemporary sound with our Yolŋu traditions... we are all family at the end of the day, doesn't matter where we come from."

Garrangali Band hit the road in mid-October for a special tour of the region's isolated communities - including Makungun's mother's Homeland, Gan Gan.

He says he looks forward to bringing the album to the rest of the country once coronavirus travel restrictions ease, sharing a message of hope for the future.

"This is about sharing the culture, to build up the relations and unity... To be recognised, as we are the First Nations of Australia," he said.

Arnhem Land tour dates & locations:

Baniyala – Sunday Oct 18th  
Gapuwiyak –  Tuesday Oct 20th  
Maningrida – Thursday Oct 22nd  
Ramingining – Saturday Oct 24th  
Gan Gan – Tuesday Oct 27th  
Yirrkala – Friday Oct 30th 

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