Nomini Permae (“beautiful Mambor”) is a group of musicians from Mambor, a small island of 500 inhabitants located two hours’ journey from the city of Nabire in Papua province, Indonesia. Heard through Western ears, their music is both familiar and unfamiliar. It blends familiar country rhythms (performed on guitar, ukulele, and bass) and the universal themes of love, loss, and religion with an unfamiliar language and cultural context.
The language, Moor, is spoken fluently only by a thousand people. It belongs to the large Austronesian family of languages, and as such is very distantly related to Indonesian (the national language of Indonesia). Moor is unknown even to most residents of Papua province. Children are no longer learning the language; its vitality is threatened and its future is uncertain.
The cultural context is that of a small village where fishing is the principal occupation and fish and sago (the edible pith of the sago palm) are the principal foods. Extended families are large and create complex networks of interlocking social obligations. Marriages generally do not happen without the parents’ consent. Protestantism, introduced by Dutch missionaries in the early 20th century, is universally practiced.
Nomini Permae’s first album, Nuto Suama (“Suama Island”), contains a variety of Nomini Permae’s religious and non-religious songs. The first track, Freight Train, is a nod to the Western influence in Nomini Permae’s music. The other tracks are original compositions. All tracks were recorded on location on Mambor and neighboring islands.
Nuto Suama was released as a CD and DVD in November 2015. The CD is available for purchase online. The DVD contents are freely available on YouTube. For more information, including complete lyric translations, see the CD liner notes and DVD liner notes.