There’s a surprising new album that was released in Australia that’s taken over top hits like Abba, Mariah Carey, and Michael Bublé within its first week, landing the No. 5 position on the music charts.
So, what makes this release so alluring? The album, called Songs of Disappearance, is comprised of the varied songs and calls of 53 threatened Australian bird species, all of which were recorded over a 40-year period. The proceeds will go to the avian conservation organization BirdLife Australia.
The album description gives you a taste of the unique musical experience in store for you, reading, “The title track celebrates the incredible diversity of the Australian soundscape, and highlights what we stand to lose without taking action. Be immersed in a chorus of iconic cockatoos, the buzzing of bowerbirds, a bizarre symphony of seabirds, and the haunting call of one of the last remaining night parrots.”
The idea behind the album began to take shape when Stephen Garnett, author of the Australian Action Plan for Birds, approached Anthony Albrecht of the Bowerbird Collective if the organization would be willing to promote the action plan, which aims to spread awareness about the plight of endangered birds in Australia.
Albrecht brought the idea to violinist and co-founder of Bowerbird Collective Simone Slattery, and the two began the work of arranging the songs of 53 threatened birds into an opening track for what would become Songs of Disappearance. All the calls and songs were from the archives of nature recordist David Stewart, who had been keeping his recordings in The British Library, National Sound Archive, and the Macaulay Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York. Other partners involved in the album’s development are Charles Darwin University and Mervyn Street of Mangkaja Arts.
“I listened to the birds [as recorded by Stewart] one after the other and I found it incredibly moving,” Slattery tells The Guardian while explaining the creative process. “I kept listening until I could feel a structure coming to me, like a quirky dawn chorus. Some of these sounds will shock listeners because they’re extremely percussive, they’re not melodious at all. They’re clicks, they’re rattles, they’re squawks and deep bass notes.”
Australia-based listeners can get their hands on a hard copy of the CD, but digital versions are available worldwide.