In early 2010, Second Language released a compilation album called Music and Migration which proffered exclusive new songs by an eclectic retinue of left-of-centre artists including Vashti Bunyan, Peter Broderick, Hauschka, Leyland Kirby and Darren Hayman. Themed around issues of avian migration, and the many man-made threats to international ‘flyways’ as highlighted by the wildlife conservation charity BirdLife International’s Born to Travel campaign, the album proved to be both an artistic and public awareness ‘hit’, selling out its limited edition almost immediately but not before the migratory awareness ‘message’ had been widely propagated courtesy of healthy media coverage and supporting concert performances.
True to its name, Music and Migration II is that album’s sequel. Sadly, despite BirdLife’s International’s Herculean efforts, avian migratory routes continue to be threatened by the wilfulness and thoughtlessness of mankind. One particular hotbed of human migratory interference is the Maltese archipelago, located on one of the three main routes used by Europe’s breeding birds in their migrations to and from their African wintering grounds. The islands are particularly important as way stations in the middle of the Mediterranean and the spring and autumnal influxes offer spectacular sights; yet, rather than a haven for birds, Malta is a killing ground which can ‘boast’ the highest density of hunters and trappers in Europe, and probably the world.
Several of Malta’s breeding birds were wiped out by hunting: the Jackdaw in the ’50s, the Barn Owl and Peregrine Falcon in the ‘80s. Illegal hunters now target migratory birds, and an analysis of international ring recoveries reveals that birds of at least 75 species from 35 countries have been killed in Malta. While common birds such as Barn Swallows are often shot down for ‘sport’, rarer birds such as Black Storks are chased by vehicle around the islands and shot down for inclusion in private taxidermy collections — a practice facilitated by a local culture of ‘looking the other way’, an under-resourced police force and a lack of punitive anti-hunter legislation, as generally enforced in the remainder of the EC.
BirdLife Malta has been campaigning against the illegalities for close to 50 years now. There are signs of change: the courts have started issuing more serious sentences and law-abiding hunters and trappers are taking the first tentative steps to exposing law breakers within their ranks. Members of the public are becoming increasingly outspoken, and even active, against the illegal killing.
Music & Migration II aims to help support BirdLife Malta’s campaign against illegal hunting and raise awareness of the issues by once again inviting an international coterie of gifted musicians from across a panorama of styles and genres to contribute new, especially recorded songs. Migratory birds recognise no national boundaries, and nor does Second Language; so, here you’ll find music from Great Britain, Japan, Denmark, France, Germany, Australia and the USA, all of it united (even the instrumental tracks) by a respect and fascination with the avian world and a more than passing acquaintance with the resonances contained in the metaphor ‘free as a bird’.
International support is key to ensuring that the Malta chapter is just one of a volume, and not the final chapter, in the lives of many birds, so please lend your support to this noble cause. Find out more here: www.birdlifemalta.org or www.birdlife.org
'Music & Migration II' comes packaged in a fold-out 496mm x 744mm poster designed by Good Pilot and Jeff Teader. Limited edition of 500 copies.
This is SL014.
MUSIC & MIGRATION II :
1. Rowan and John Aitchison: Passing Through
2. Dollboy: Birds in My Mouth
3. Ellis Island Sound: Snowdon Aviary
4. The Hardy Tree: The Cutty Wren
5. Haruko: We'll Be Birds
6. James Brewster: Dissent En Route
7. Piano Magic: The Way of the Birds
8. The Home Current: Theme from Mizieb
9. Marissa Nadler: Dead Birds in Arkansaw
10. Sophie Hutchings: Between Two Hills
11. July Skies: Birds Fly South for the Winter (II)
12. Chronomad: Bolbol
13. Padang Food Tigers: Honey Stole the Crown
14. F.S. Blumm: Wandervogel