Kalaji brings the most beautiful music to the stage in the performance of Night River as part of the YIRRAMBOI Festival.

Immersed in the darkness of a theatre at the Festival Hub in North Melbourne on Saturday night, we were treated to an experience of evocative music and mesmerising of video art. The music was created by electronic music artist Kalaji, which is a word that means ‘whirlwind’ in the Nyikina language of the Mardoowarra River in far north Western Australia.

Rich imagery of Australian landscapes, artistically manipulated to provide a textural backdrop to the music, contained images of rivers, rock art, desert landscapes and stars in the night sky. These natural images of the landscape provided an illustration of the concept of Country, as it is meaningful to indigenous Australians.

The music itself was beautiful. Kalaji’s sound is emotionally sophisticated, with compelling rhythms that build to create a story. One of the most powerful elements of his music is his voice which creates the most intense form of yearning and power.

There is something about his music that brings to mind my own connection to the natural environment of my origin too. Perhaps it is a spiritual connection with this part of the Australian landscape. The performance definitely conveyed a sense of the spiritual nature of the land we stand upon.

Kalaji is also the musical alias for actor Mark Coles Smith, who has starred in The Drover’s WifeLast Cab to Darwin and Pawno. He has created music for other theatre companies such as Ilbijerri Theatre’s recent production Which Way Home and short film scores.

Spending an hour immersed in this emotionally rich and satisfying soundscape was a beautiful experience and one that will not be easily forgotten. I eagerly await new music and performance from this talented artist.

You can check out the rest of the performances of the YIRRAMBOI Festival here: https://yirramboi.net.au/

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