Consisting of 11 tracks and a video file, the array of musicians, singers and story-tellers who contribute to The Dreaming offer a very different approach to Australian aboriginal culture. Made in partnership between a small ethically based label in Britain and Australian didgeridoo player Phillip Jackson, The Dreaming aims to raise funds for aboriginal support and cultural projects, while also providing the opportunity for each of an eclectic range of participants to make their own contribution to the dreamtime. It starts off simply enough. In its title-track, Francis Firebrand relates the myth of the dreamtime: the story of how the world was called into being. Respectful didge reverberations contribute to its placid atmosphere and within minutes you’re swept up on the dance beats of Jeremy Cloake’s ‘Bukumakku Yonguwo’.
The presence of the didgeridoo permeates this album but what makes the The Dreaming so enjoyable is the way that a diverse gang of musicians have integrated it into their music. Simon Mullumby’s ‘Stix’ is a well-centred track and on Jambience’s excellent ‘La Coline’, the instrumental also employs tabla, djembe and darabuka, and the resulting shimmer, so reminiscent of sitar music, interacts beautifully. There are huge surprises: Buzby Burchall’s ‘Sónae’ — recorded in a Reykjavik church with a pure Icelandic soprano sending tremors down your spine — isn’t a didge song but its floating overtones pick up the instrument’s theme. The violin lines of Rohan Kriwaczek’s ‘In a Japanese Garden’ achieve a similar effect. These two pieces alone make the The Dreaming something special.Louise Gray