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  • Brett Wood

Naavikaran Offers Reverence for the Disenfranchised With Debut Album “Brown Church”

Brown Church is the debut album from multi-disciplinary artist Naavikaran, executive produced by 2019 Music Industry College graduate Levi Kohler.

I had the rare privilege of attending a listening party of an abbreviated version on Brown Church the album earlier this week. The setting at Brisbane's What's Golden was the perfect venue for the small group of invitees to devour the musical feast. The content of the songs deals with a range of issues faced by people of colour, LGBTIQ people, the disabled and the queer. The lyrics are brave, powerful poignant and most of all important. This is a contemporary project that will be challenging to many but I implore you to listen, from start to finish and open your eyes to the words and world of the marginalised.

Levi Kohler's production is provides the perfect vehicle for Naavikaran's spoken word and singing. It is obvious that this is a passion project for them and the fruit of the labour of love is quite extraordinary. Over the course of an hour, the powerhouse duo redefine the boundaries of genre, and music itself, through the symbiosis of earnest spoken word poetry and dynamic musical accompaniment.

This is a project defined by its dualisms — the meditative and the frenetic, the celebratory and the sombre, the classic and the modern — making the 14 tracks a near comprehensive look at the artists’ influences. There’s the vocally percussive bols, lifted from South Indian classical music, and direct influence from Bollywood (“Karnan” was inspired by the final scene from the 2021 film that shares its name), touchstones that live alongside references to PC Music and Nine Inch Nails, Christian hymnal music and hip hop.

Standout tracks include lead single “Where Are You From?” and “Show You How It’s Done (Untucked)”, two energetic pop-rap tracks fuelled by Naavikaran’s witty one-liners and dynamic vocal delivery, “Guardian Angel” (a re-imagining of various hymns that offers joyous trans representation), and “If My Genders Were The Entire Solar System”, a whimsical fan-favourite spoken word piece.

Art will always be informed by the time and context during which it was created, and Brown Church has a strong focus on the continued fight for liberation by LGBTQ+, Black/Blak and POC people, and connects it to larger global issues such as the climate crisis, homelessness, domestic and family violence, and systemic racism.

Brown Church hits streaming services from today and coincides with the debut performance of the same name, a theatrical spectacle witnessing the journeys of displacement, queer liberation and the euphoria of culture as explored through poetry, music and dance. The show is taking place in Brisbane, Australia at the Tivoli on September 3rd and 4th.


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