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Description Five years is a long time in the lives of men. In the life of a country it’s the blink of an eye.

Balang Lewis and the four senior Wagalak, Rembarrnga and Dalabon Songmen on this landmark Australian album are all sadly passed since its original, strictly limited release in August 2007. But their songs, as captured in an inspired collaboration with some of the most respected and inventive contemporary musicians in Australia, will live forever.

Songs from Walking With Spirits is a unique document to celebrate the potency of an ancient storytelling tradition. For more than 80 years, ethnomusicologists have travelled to the Beswick/ Wugularr community east of Katherine to witness the rare gravity of First Nations Songmen singing their country. A constant and indelible presence in a changing world, these men are keepers of the codes that unlock the map of kin, country and culture.

It was the late actor, singer, musician and Beswick elder Balang T. E. Lewis (The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, The Shadow King) who brought Roy Ashley, Micky Hall, Victor Hood and Jimmy Wesan together with revered Daddy Cool guitarist Ross Hannaford (who also passed in 2016), Gurrumul bassist Michael Hohnen and select other rock/ jazz/ contemporary musicians to help these ancient songs of country resonate anew.

What at first glance might seem like an odd pairing of musical cultures, in retrospect can be seen as a unique experiment in Australian genre-bending and blending.

The results are unlike anything heard before in Indigenous or western music: a breathtaking sound and energy that brings progressive dialogue to timeless concepts in an era when the promise of First Nations recognition has returned to the forefront of national awareness.

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