Marliya is a group of young Indigenous singers based in Cairns, whose music goes straight to the heart. Born out of a collaboration between Gondwana Choirs and Felix Riebl, these young women sing with a warmth and richness that belies their age.
In 2015, Gondwana Choirs commissioned a new work from Felix Riebl for Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir, premiering Spinifex Gum – a song cycle at National Choral School 2016. Felix visited the Pilbara three times, meeting and developing relationships members of Indigenous communities in Karratha and Roebourne. On one trip, 35 Indigenous choristers joined him, performing as part of the Red Earth Arts Festival.
The original 30-minute song cycle explores aspects of indigenous life in the Pilbara, incorporating Yinjabarndi language. Over the next two years, Felix and his partner Ollie McGill would add more works, expanding Spinifex Gum into a full album, which was released in October 2017.
In addition to Marliya and Riebl, the album features guest vocalists Adam Briggs, Peter Garrett and Emma Donovan. Its unique musical landscape of comprises treated field recordings, programmed rhythms, organic instrumentation and above all, the overarching power of human voices, bearing stories crying out to be heard.
“Peppered with treated field recordings, it invites comparison with M.I.A.’s Kala: see the penetrating title track, with its rapid-fire chorale, fractured industrial samples and sand-rattling beat. 4/5 stars.”
Rolling Stone Magazine