Iwantja Band launch ‘Palya’

Around the remoter parts of Australia there’s a ferment of contemporary music and Australian languages. I had a taste of this a week ago in Tennant Creek, where I learnt of a freshly released album from Iwantja Band, now on their launch journey (Iwantja Band launch Palya).

cover art for 'Palya'
Cover art for 'Palya'

I caught some of the enthusiasm from Patrick McCloskey, a freelance music producer working with the Winanjjikari Music Centre1 at Tennant Creek.

Most of the songs on the album (eg Kungka Nyuntu, Wamanguru) are in Pitjantjatjara / Yankunytjatjara, languages spoken at Iwantja (perhaps better known as Indulkana), some 900km south of Tennant Creek. It suited the band to use a studio not in a city, or in intermediate Alice Springs, but at Winanjjikari in Tennant Creek. And there is more to the mix, as the band’s manager says in an interview:

Music NT: It’s so great that the band sing in language – do you think the success of Gurrumul around the world is an encouragement to Indigenous bands like Iwantja?
Mark Smerdon [Iwantja Band’s manager]: I guess so… The connection with Gurrumul is quite strong as Stewart is his first cousin, has a similar sounding voice and wrote many songs with Gurrumul. Jeremy sees his role as bridging the gap between European culture and Anangu culture and language is a very important component in that.

Funding has come to the Song Peoples Project, under the umbrella of Barkly Regional Arts, from MILR (the Australian Government Maintenance of Indigenous Languages and Records Program); and from Winanjjikari Music Centre‘s partnership with Wantok Musik Foundation which thus brings in links with Melanesia.

Palya will be available to download at iTunes soon, and is also available from CAAMA Music stores in Alice Springs2; Iwantja Band already have two tracks on the album ‘SnapShot’ on the iTunes Store.

The Iwantja Band (and much more) will be at the Desert Harmony Festival 2011 Anyinginyi Manu3 in Tennant Creek, 26 August – 4 September 2011, and a further launch is planned for Borroloola in October 2011.



  1. The name is Warumungu, wina-njji-kari ‘sing-Nom-Genitive’; see also WMC’s blog
  2. http://musicnt.com.au/2011/05/06/iwantja-band-launch-palya/
  3. The Warumungu name is anyi-nginyi manu ‘1stPluralInclusive-Genitive country’

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