‘Songs of Disappearance’, an album of Australian Bird Calls, was released on 3 December 2021 by the Bowerbird Collective and BirdLife Australia. Since then, it actually hit the top position last week in the ARIA Top 20 Australian Albums Chart.
However, last week the album reached a surprising (or perhaps not) podium place in the ARIA Top 50 Albums Chart. Having peaked at number three, the compilation of bird calls from endangered and threatened species of Australian birds now sits at the still impressive thirteenth possie—smack bang between Delta Goodrem’s ‘Only Santa Knows’ and Mariah Carey’s ‘Merry Christmas’. How’s that for company?
The album was produced with recordings made by nature recordist David Stewart and Nature Sound. The idea to bring attention to endangered and threatened species of Australian birds, though, came from Anthony Albrecht, a PhD student at Charles Darwin University and co-founder of the Bowerbird Collective, and his supervisor Stephen Garrett, who wrote The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2020.
This report found that not only 216 out of 1,299 (or one in six) Australian bird species are threatened, but that another 50 Australian bird species are facing extinction resulting from the affects of climate change and the lack of policy support.
The album, which features 53 of Australia’s most threatened bird species, is 54 songs long and lasts for a full 25 minutes. The first song, which gives the album its title, features all of the birds and was arranged by violinist Simone Slattery, co-founder of Bowerbird Collective.
Speaking to The Guardian, she said, “I listened to the birds [as recorded by Stewart] one after the other and I found it incredibly moving… 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.” Sounds like there are plenty of sounds on the album to interest our beatmakers.
The remainder of the tracks are recordings of the birds in isolation. You can hear the night parrot, a call which had not been heard until 2013, the gang-gang cockatoo, the golden bowerbird, and the swift parrot among many more. One of the saddest on the record, though, must be of the regent honeyeater, which is losing its own voice.
With ‘Songs of Disappearance’ still chirping in the top 20 and top 50 album charts, it’s fairly clear that Australians do care about these birds. You can help these birds by keeping the album as high as possible in the album charts. We also believe that despite dropping out of the top ten, it’s got the strength to keep on flying high.