The Desert Stars - Mungangka Ngarangyi

September 30, 2016

During my 2016 stint at the Ilkurlka roadhouse, a trip to the community of Tjuntjuntjara landed me in the rehearsal hall of the Desert Stars. I was supposed to "have a jam", but here they were, unleashing torrents of rock n roll. This would be no jam session. Lead man J. Minning was putting the world's most remote rock band through their paces with passionate speeches and demonstrations. I just sat and took a few pics and marvelled at my crazily remote location being slammed into submission by this classic sounding rock combo - as if lifted straight from the suburban beer barns of eastern Australia throughout the 70s and 80s and dumped right there into the Spinifex Lands. As it is with these things, it transpired that I would make their next album in June that year.


As the June date approached, I was offered backstage tickets to see Radio Birdman support The Who at Spain's Azkena Rock Festival! Talk about being torn! I knew I'd have to go with the Desert Stars. And what an experience it was. Beginning with the long series of flights to community followed by a drive through the most amazing desert landscapes you could ask for en route to Wingellina, where the NG Media Studios were located. Along the way, we stopped off where the last nomadic Indigenous of this country left the traditional life and joined the community.


Once set up in the studio, I battled the production using Logic 10, a recording software I have no relationship with. I found it was best to let them be themselves and just snapshot the song at its best moment. Other than losing a few lead guitar overdubs, we managed to get 10 songs down, becoming their second album in 12 years. When I finished the mixing at Vale Sound, I could hardly believe what had just happened. So many things could have brought that project to a screaming halt. It's difficult to rationalise from within our western lifestyle, but many things assured me it was no small feat.


I thank the band for hosting me on their lands and giving me such a rare opportunity. I thank Ian Baird and Brad Kelly for making the logistics seems possible. A once in a lifetime gig.




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