DIDJ Heart – New CD out now
The genesis of ‘didj heart’ came from two events. The first when I did a session for Martin Eley on a CD he was recording at Marcus Holden’s Bloody Dog studio (black labs wander in and out at sessions there). Afterward Marty realized there were unexplored dimensions in song writing with didjeridu and suggested recording an album. I had not recorded since the doofy electro Gondwana ‘Bone Man’ CD of 2002 so I was ready for a newie. Marcus and I go way back to our first gigs, he had played on my acoustic ‘Tjilatjila’ album of 1996 and
I knew his talent with various string instruments would go well with highly original music. The second was commencing work at ASPECT, an NGO (Non-governmental organization) that provides care and services for folks on the autistic spectrum, where I met Pasko Schravemade. As support workers there we discovered how music can reach people with severe communication difficulties and provide satisfaction of a different order to your average gig. It all added up to music for the heart.
When I first heard didjeridu in 1956 aged four and on, until the 1980s, the instrument and its playing had probably not changed much since its invention by the Arnhem Land Aborigines around 1700 years ago. Although it is often cited to be humanity’s oldest musical instrument, evidence from rock art galleries suggests that it is a relatively recent invention by Aborigines, and their culture did change a lot during their 50,000 year occupation of the continent. See George Chaplouka’s ‘Journey in Time’ for a very thorough book with photos
and explanations of that. Anyway, in the 1980s didj appreciation outside its north Australian home began to grow and my first band Gondwanaland was prominent in that process, recording and releasing our 12” vinyl LP ‘Terra Incognita’ in 1983. Concurrently Aboriginal folk began asserting their identity after 2 centuries of colonization and didjeridu became an iconic symbol in the new pan-Aboriginal culture.
Original music was my interest, and developing new ways of playing became my modus operandi. Custodians of didj lore in Maningrida cited in the article ‘That Didjeridu Has Sent Them Mad’ from the book Kaltja Now (Wakefield Press, 2000) credit me for “inventing complex and interesting new ways of playing”. The didjeridu sounds for Didj Heart come from three innovations I have developed during 30 years of performance and recording: my chromatic rack of 14 didjeridus, the pitch shift didjeribone and the face bass.
The rack made possible the soundscape of Dugong Didj Ensemble and the diverse tones from lows to high throughout Didj Heart. Also we played the rack percussively for the wood xylophone sound on Riverside and Wanderer. The didjeribone is everywhere but perhaps most evocative playing the sliding horn tones on Adrift and in St Patrick Reflects. Where the didj has a strong bass presence like on Voyager, it had been recorded with the Face Bass, a seismic sensor adapted to recording didj from inside the mouth or on the face.
Pasko’s warm contemporary touch, Marcus’s play-any-and-everything technical depth and Marty’s sweet guitar all come together to give a lot of heart to this bunch of mainly sentimental songs. More on the Didj Heart blog and Facebook about Gondwana Band and this, my finest recording yet.
With its primal tone and continuous chant-like drone didjeridu has always echoed perfectly the vast Australian landscape and Aboriginality. Recently, in a time when worldwide there are perhaps ten thousand didjeridu players for every Arnhem Land didj player, didj still evokes its roots but comes to resonate in extra dimensions with fresh qualities from the diversity of players and new ways of melding didj into music. Didj Heart is part of that process.
PRESS ABOUT SAMPLE LIBRARY
Review from Computer Music magazine, UK.
"...This disc proves that the didgeridoo has a lot to offer... a stranger variety of sonic textures than you might expect... flexible and inspiring"
Here's the full text of the review:
While it can hardly be hailed as the most melodic instrument, this disc proves that the didgeridoo has a lot to offer as far as character and rhythmic potential go. There are over 800 samples here, exhibiting a stranger variety of sonic textures than you might expect, from springy stabs to screechy sweeps and bizarre effects, via deep, wallowing pads.
Review from Music Tech magazine, UK.
"...The Face Bass provides some extravagant effects achieved using a seismic microphone that captures the subtleties of sound inside the player’s mouth while he is playing. The real stars of the show, though, are the didgeribone loops, which sound like someone violently abusing the filter on an organic monster synth. This is a very well recorded and unique sample pack... if you need some organic-sounding, acid tweaking grooves, look no further... explores the didgeridoo in ways you might never have thought possible."
Here's the full text of the review:
Charlie McMahon is one of Australia’s most acclaimed didgeridoo players, whose work has featured on soundtracks to Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Mad Max. He’s also performed with Snakefinger, Jane’s Addiction and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. A true master of the instrument, Charlie has invented new playing techniques and designs, such as the sliding-pitch didjeribone and the intriguingly titled Seismic Face Bass, both of which can be found here.
The library comprises 1.3GB of samples in Apple Loops, ACID WAV, REX2 and Reason ReFill formats, totalling around 450MB of material recorded at 24-bit, 44.1kHz resolution. The samples are mostly loop-based and played in numerous styles and tempos on the various didgeridoos. There are also some individual hits and several pitched collections that could be played on a keyboard.
The Wood instrument section covers more traditional sounds, with the Face Bass providing some extravagant effects. These are achieved using a seismic microphone that captures the subtleties of sound inside the player’s mouth while he is playing. The real stars of the show, though, are the didgeribone loops, which sound like someone violently abusing the filter on an organic monster synth.
This is a very well recorded and unique sample pack, but we are reluctant to give it a very high score as it represents a fairly significant outlay and you might use it on only one or two tracks. However, if you need some organic-sounding, acid tweaking grooves, look no further.
Verdict: A specialist pack that explores the didgeridoo in ways you might never have thought possible…
FaceBass Video Introduction
Most people who heard the Face-Bass can't believe that the sound was made by one man. We have added a video of Charlie showing everyone how producing this amazing sounds. Adobe flash player is required to watch the video.