Boomkat Product Review:
Fred Leone and Samuel Pankhurst's debut album is sung in the endangered Butchulla language over modernist, experimental soundscapes.
Leone is one of only three Butchulla songmen, and aside from preserving a language and craft that's now only known by a handful of people, he's been a member of the Black Arm Band, and established the Impossible Odds label in 2009, Queensland's first indigenous hip-hop label. He joins forces with double bassist, composer and producer Pankhurst on 'Yirinda', who accompanies Leone's impassioned songs with sparse, delicate instrumentation, alternating between orchestral sounds and glistening electronics.
Leone's voice is the album's not-so-secret weapon, and anchors each track. His throaty chants are hypnotic even without accompaniment, and Pankhurst knows when to hang back and let the vocals soar. They're most hard-hitting on the melancholy 'Galangoor Baya (Welcome)', when Leone's voice echoes alongside a sprightly arpeggiated synth lead and dissonant strings. There's a tension in the collaboration that makes it captivating, and on 'Yunma (Sleep)', a rickety, overdriven beat experiment that's woken up with 8-bit synths, Yirinda sound fully out on their own.