Artist Profiles: Nabarlek Band

Nabarlek Band


Nabarlek Band come from a tiny community in central Arnhem Land (Manmoyi) where for over 15 years they had been rehearsing and practicing for the moment that they could produce their first album.

In 1985 the band consisted of two busted acoustic guitars and a set of upturned flour tins that served as drums, the band was mostly singers and dancers.

After a few years of struggling with inadequate instruments the band gave up their musical ambitions for a while and created a traditional dance troupe performing dreamtime stories at community festivals around the Top End.

As a dance troupe Nabarlek were very successful and after a few years were able to save enough money to buy the long sought after instruments, and the band was back.

With guitars keyboards and a real set of drums instead of upturned flour tins, they were now able to concentrate on their long held dream of becoming a serious band that would one day produce an album.

At the end of the millennium, Nabarlek, the garage band that never had a garage, had produced two recordings, with the help of Craig Pilkington of Audrey Studios Melbourne (who also produced the critically acclaimed debut album of Saltwater Band).

The album title Munwurrk means bushfire and it was suggested to the band from the old people in their community, that, that should be the title of the album, as bushfire is essential to the existence of the people as it helps in the hunting of the kangaroo and it brings renewal to the country.

The album title Bininj Manborlh or “Blackfella Road” has more traditional songs, all with their own style of this Western Arnhemland rock band.

The songs on the albums have been derived from traditional stories and songs. Nabarlek are another band in a long history of contemporary Aboriginal bands that have rewritten their traditional stories into songs with contemporary instrumentation. Their songs help strengthen traditional culture by passing onto the next generation the lessons of life in a rock and roll format that is able to compete with the influence of western rock music.

Nabarlek set out in 2001 to become a serious band on the Australian music scene, and to emulate the success of bands such as Warumpi and Yothu Yindi and present Aboriginal culture through music that will find a place in the mainstream, and help take their culture to their children and the children of the world.

Nabarlek have toured extensively, starting with the Adelaide Festival and have completed overseas performances in Germany.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for TelevisiĆ³n EspaƱola (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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