Kardajala Kirridarra @ Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, Friday January 19, 2018.
As Women’s Marches beat across the world and our own fraught Australia Day approaches, there couldn’t be a better time to step into the lush waters of four-piece Kardajala Kirridarra.
Comprised of Eleanor ‘Nalyirri’ Dixon, Janey ‘Namija’ Dixon, and Kayla Jackson from NT’s Marlinja and Kulumindini communities, as well as Melbourne producer Beatrice ‘Nalyirri’ Lewis, Kardajala Kirridarra could be the first time you’ve ever heard Indigenous women’s voices and messages in this way; while the group have plenty of antecedents and contemporaries in sound and mission, it’s the way those elements have been put together that is awesomely new.
We were only one track into the setlist – led by the powerful and benevolent force of Eleanor Dixon – when Lewis requested that the stage lights be cut altogether. That suited the room just fine, as we sang along with Two Worlds Collide‘s dreamy refrain: “Ancient time in a new paradigm.” Between each track, Dixon offered a series of questions and maxims which licked the audience into total ardour. “The Earth is a grandmother, mother, daughter,” she said. “The Earth is something we can’t contain, can’t grab. Always, always bloody appreciate her!” Those words cast out some sort of meditation on which to contemplate each track, as we digested the thumping heart and radiant melodies of the group’s self-titled debut.
Combining elements of ambient electronica, neo-soul, and maybe even some iteration of Balaeric House, Lewis’ beats included ticking 16ths that peppered what were actually quite slow base rhythms. They allowed for long vocal notes which met and matched and then diverged. Young Girl’s Song (Warmala) presented another version of the idea, with simple scurrying piano arpeggios giving a rhythmic frame, and the women’s vocals providing a sweetly protective blanket of harmony over the patter.
When Dixon announced the band’s last song there was an audible ‘aww’ of disappointment. “I know,” she said. “It would be nice to hang out more. But… we don’t have any more songs,” she smiled. She’s not kidding, either – having taken us right through the group’s only album, we now have to wait to see what they’ll create next. If the final she-wolf cheers the Northcote Social Club howled towards the full moon backdrop were any indication, anticipation is high.