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Red Sands

26/04/2022Melbourne-Based Artist Ajak Kwai Releases Powerful EP Combining South Sudanese Influences With Contemporary Gestures

At the start of a new week, we would like to point you in the direction of Melbourne-based artist and broadcaster Ajak Kwai, who released her powerful EP "Red Sands" on Music in Exile late last year. Well known to the Australian music community, she is a strong voice for "inclusion and the celebration of cultural diversity found throughout Australian society." Kwai herself hails from the historic city of Bor in South Sudan.

In her shows for both PBS and 3CR, Ajak Kwai "gives a voice to the local African community so that they can tell their stories through music and spoken word. [Her] selections focus on songs that have changed the world in a positive way, as she challenges the bias in our society and reminds politicians to be accountable for their language and actions." She herself performs in English, Arabic and Dinka, "drawing upon South Sudanese funk and blues influences and bringing together elements of traditional music alongside more contemporary gestures."

"Red Sands" presents listeners with a rich and wonderfully arranged bouquet of sounds that is equally impressive as it is expressive and heartfelt. The four tracks communicate an intrinsic beauty that is well versed and harmonious. Opening on the dreamy, atmospheric vibes of "I'll Be Your Eyes", slowly coming into bloom with a deep sense of longing, the percussive-led "Rabina Mana" then ups the tempo and swings into motion with a relentlessly bluesy groove, before "Arrows" pierce the sky and fellow Melbourne-based artist Allysha Joy adds her vocals to the mix. Title track "Red Sands" brings the EP to a funky, soulful and resounding close, meant as a tribute to the indigenous people of Northern Australia, but also to South Sudan.

"We share common ground with these people, a common pain. They have been treated appallingly, and this is not just one person's problem, this is a community problem. It is our problem as a community," she said in a recent interview with Dan Condon. "If we really want to see a good world, we as a people have the power to change that. Forget about leaders, they do nothing. We as a community can make changes for Australia. If Australia doesn't respect its own people, how can we as a country be respected?" she asks.

You can stream the full EP and watch also watch a live performance of "Red Sounds" by Ajak Kwai and her band below. 

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom