Album review: Saltwater Band - Malk

World music with a pop and reggae tinge, straight from one of the most remote places on Earth, that surprisingly just about avoids the contrived.

Most of Malk is sung in the Aboriginal group’s native Yolngu tongue, and you’re unlikely to see them on tour owing to their numbers and remote location.

But the Aussie roots collective, featuring eight musicians from Galiwink’ku Elcho Island in northern Australia and led by award-winning Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu and Manual Dhurrkay, are worth searching out.

They combine traditional choral songs with a pop sensibility, reggae slant and smooth production for a surprisingly accessible album - Marwurrumburr’s sunny, relaxed Caribbean vibes, sparkling trumpets and soft pipes is typical, planted squarely on the pop-crossover apex.

For something less saccharine though, head for Yolngu Island Dancer, which barrels along to an uplifting tribal rhythm, overlaid with intricate guitar work, that defies you not to dance like a loon.


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3 stars

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