Mark Atkins,
Didgeridoo Dreamtime
(ARC, 1998)

My hands are shaking, my vision's blurred and I'm precariously close to an altered state of consciousness. I'm not on drugs; I've just finished listening to Digeridoo Dreamtime. The album claims to be generated by an aborigine descendant named Mark Atkins, but I think he's a front. This is not music made by human beings. It's barely even music. The sounds of Digeridoo Dreamtime are elemental voices, pouring out of the ether and straight into the human brain.

"Bullima" starts the experience, vibrating warning of shadow into the mind with a sound like loud music heard deep underwater. It resolves itself into a whirl of insect wings and mosquito attacks for "Mung Goon Garlie," as animals scream and whisper in a tune that seethes with the life of forest undergrowth. None of the nature echoing tunes sound the way the world really does, but rather the way it sounds in dreams, with every sound given a meaning you can almost grasp. The "Tuckonies" (tree spirits) sound as if they're trying to pass on a message that you can't understand; the bees in the "Sugar Bag" are clearly busy discussing their work and don't care that you hear their frantic conversation.

Atkins and his fellow magicians call out their songs with a surprising variety of instruments: the title didgeridoo, a bit of guitar -- and could that be a synthesizer spinning those primal sounds? Songs like "Bungarrow," with their modern influences and primal vibe, sound like the rock 'n' roll of the mountains. But from the soulful "Dumble Murray" past the clacking hooves of "The Devil," the didgeridoo unites the album in a long unspoken chant.

Listen to Digeridoo Dreamtime straight through and you'll either go insane or have a spiritual epiphany. Take it a song at a time and it's a journey to all the wild places on the planet, perfect and powerful as they only are in dreamtime. Use it at your own risk, and with joy.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 4 January 2003

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