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Midnight Oil’s “The Makarrata Project” Reviewed

Reparations is a topic of  great debate in this country but as Americans we’re kidding ourselves to think we’re the only ones grappling with our horrible actions of the past. Australia is grappling with it, too. And Peter Garrett wants you to know. Like now.

So no surprise Midnight Oil shines their light on the issue in a “none too subtle” way.

Wait, let me rephrase. Their harsh light burns bright AF! They’ve been an advocate for Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island People for decades. In my younger days, my musical tastes formed around guitar tones, guitar harmonies, vocal harmonies, horn arrangements, all rich and layered and thanks to The Clash a healthy appreciation of political activism mixed in the lyrics, was just what was needed. (forgive the uber run-on sentence there)

The Makaratta Project – Midnight Oil’s first new music since they supposedly disbanded in 2002. But the time does not seem to have had any negative impact on the sound.

The tracks:

1) First Nation. – The classic Midnight Oil sound immediately brings me back to Diesel and Dust and Blue Sky Mining. Muted guitar notes, hard hitting backbeat, thumping bass and the vocals. But what’s new? Midnight Oil puts themselves in a supporting role a lot of the time. Here with two vocalists, some rapping and harmonies with Jessica Mauboy and Tasman Keith.

When the hair on my neck and arms finally came down, heart still racing, they whip into:

2) Gadigal Land – fat horns and chunky rhythm guitar, the marching beat doesn’t stop. Why do these tunes keep reminding me of those two seminal CDs of theirs? OK – I got it now. They’ve gone back to producer, recording and mixing engineer Warne Livsey and they’re not missing a beat.

3) Change The Date – Slower and more thoughtful, the vocals of Dan Sultan and Gurrumul (RIP) are mixed with Peter Garrett and band focus you where you need to be. A place of empathy and hopefully a desire to bring about awareness and change. Heading into our United States Election, I felt it.

4) Terror Australia – featuring Alice Skye – sweet voice that underscores the two worlds there and this song sadly touches on the contrast. The lyric of “Jails and Guns and Failure”

5) Desert Woman – featuring Frank Yamma – his vocals highlighted with care.

6) Wind In My Head – another song shining a harsh light on the issues.

7) Uluru Statement From The Heart – Link for the text of the statement can be found below.

Midnight Oil worked up close to 20 songs for this project and 7 made their way onto this Mini-LP. It’s unclear to me whether Midnight Oil has gotten back together and whether any of the remaining tunes recorded will ever be released. But in these times where we are anxious, frustrated and hurting, it’s a welcome release of music that hasn’t wanted to come out of my music player for the last two days.

For Iman, I’ll give this a rating. Caveat, I’m a Midnight Oil fan and I’m still cranked up from being transported to an earlier time of seeing them live and playing their music rather loud. Thank you Warne Livsey.

A for the effort, A+ for the mix, A for a job well done.

Please vote.

Mark Reichenbach
November 1st, 2020


The Uluru Statement From The Heart
The Statement — Uluru Statement from the Heart

Makarrata (definition):

Makarrata is a word in the Yolngu language meaning a coming together after a struggle, facing the facts of wrongs and living again in peace. … the protection of Indigenous identity, language, law and culture. the recognition and restoration of rights to land

1 Comment

  1. MARK REICHENBACH on November 2, 2020 at 11:36 am

    Here’s the link for The Uluru Statement from the Heart.

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