Kuya James and Tasman Keith release piano reimagining of ‘No Country’

The original version was released last month

Kuya James and Tasman Keith have released a haunting rework of ‘No Country’, the closing track to James’ debut album ‘ISA’.

Renamed ‘No Country (Piano in F Minor)’ for the stripped-back instrumentation and  elevated emotion provided by a dense piano, the new version of ‘No Country’ allows a starker focus on the song’s themes of Aboriginal loss of custom and culture.

Keith, a Gumbaynggirr man, said in a press statement, “‘No Country’ stems from my father’s thought that we as Gumbaynggirr men can never truly carry that title because our right to be initiated was taken away.

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“The traditional act of Initiation was our transformation into manhood. The last person to have the right to initiate members was my great uncle Pudjah who was forced to stop this process as a means to end the practice of our traditions and unfortunately died before he was able to pass down the act of initiation to someone new.

“The song speaks on being lost in a sense, lost in that thought, and lost in a country that at times can no longer feel like yours. It speaks on never aging but still carrying the wisdom of 60,000 years.”

Listen to ‘No Country (Piano in F Minor)’ now:

James added, “When Tas told me that as a Gumbayngirr man his right to be initiated was taken away I felt like weeping. I often work with initiated men from Numbulwar, Ngukurr, Elcho and Tiwi, so I understood to a degree the severe impact of what he was telling me.

“The album version felt right to use menacing sounds and big stomping drums, but when I heard the piano parts I asked John Bartlett from the production team SixFour to play I was moved on a whole other level.”

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Though loss of culture is at the forefront of the song’s meaning, it carries a juxtaposition with the Bowraville murders of the early 1990s, for which no one has yet been brought to justice. ‘No Country (Piano in F Minor)’ reflects the loss of life and culture for the Indigenous community.

“Growing up and coming from a community where there is still no justice for those murders and seeing the burden it carries on your cousins, it’s embedded into your brain – this song was my mind venting that trauma,” said Keith.

“We will never be able to age in our traditional way, and those kids that got murdered will never be able to grow old, both of these tragedies were something out of our control. Now we live with it. Justice for Clinton, Colleen & Evelyn.”

James released ‘ISA’ last month, featuring the singles ‘Sabaw’, ‘Trust’ and ‘Why Dem Pills?’.

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