Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Australian Kookaburra - Peter Bruce (196?)

Here is another bird call EP by Peter Bruce, focusing on another of Australia's iconic bird species, the Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae). The Kookaburra is one of our most recognisable and well-known bird species due mainly to its extremely distinctive laughing call and its tendency to live in close proximity to humans. Although this EP was recorded by Bruce (who's amusing narrative style I remarked upon in my post on his Lyrebird EP) this time the narration is done by Richard Davies - one of those old-style announcer types who has that curious accent that fuses the classic Australian tone with that of the British private school. The first side of the record describes the calls and habits of the Kookaburra, referring to the indigenous folklore surrounding the bird and its place in the Aboriginal dreamtime stories. The second side is a mix tape of native bird species - Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus), Grey Shrikethrush (Colluricincla harmonica), Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen), Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galleria) and Boobook Owl (Ninox novaeseelandiae). Unlike the showcasing of the mimicry on Bruce's Lyrebird EP, no prior knowledge of Australian birds is needed to enjoy this set of field recordings.

Now, if you'll forgive a little self-indulgence, my own musical ensemble, The Cambrian Explosion, used the B-side of this EP as a sample for a track from our last album The Forgotten Music of Felix Ookean - a tribute to the Australian nature documentary soundtracks of the sixties and seventies. In the song, Those Bushranging Birds Of The Bush, we have taken the sample in its entirety and scored each call like different scenes in a documentary - have a listen.

Label: Columbia, produced by Geoffrey Jackson.
Released: 196?
Players: Peter Bruce - recordist and script writer
Richard Davies - narrator


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