Help these endangered frogs top the ARIA Charts

By Candice Marshall 1 December 2022
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‘Give croaks a chance’.

An album featuring the dulcet tones of Australian frogs is on track to rival Taylor Swift in next week’s ARIA Charts. 

Featuring the calls of 58 frog species, 43 of them endangered, the album is a collaboration between The Bowerbird Collective, the Australian Museum’s FrogID project, Listening Earth and Mangkaja Arts.

“People don’t generally associate frog croaks with beautiful listening, but we’re trying to change that,” says The Bowerbird Collective co-founder, Anthony Albrecht.

Anthony and the rest of the team behind the album are hoping it will generate greater awareness of Australia’s threatened frog species. Profits made will be donated to the Australian Museum’s FrogID project.

The majority of frog calls were recorded by citizen scientists, submitted to the FrogID project. Others were contributed by some of Australia’s leading scientists. All have been digitally remastered for your listening pleasure. 

Complementing these individual croak recordings are a collection of amphibian soundscapes, captured by Listening Earth’s nature recordist, Andrew Skeoch.

“He gets out into rugged places and uses top gear in a really artistically beautiful way to record sounds of nature,” explains Anthony. 

“He has contributed five longer soundscapes to give people a more meditative and immersive experience of the froggy world.”

Then, there’s the incredible title track, a chorus of frogs ‘singing’ from all across the country, arranged by The Bowerbird Collective co-founder, Simone Slattery.

“These croaks come from all corners of Australia, so you wouldn’t normally be able to hear even a few of these species together,” says Anthony. 

“It’s designed to be like a fantasy, froggy soundscape in which you hear all these threatened species at once.”

Preview: Songs Of Disappearance – Australian Frog Calls

Currently available for pre sale, the album will be officially released this Friday, 2 December.

Anthony and the team are hoping it will make it into the next ARIA Chart, released on 9 December. 

“The cut-off for sales for our first ARIA chart appearance is midnight on Thursday, 8 December, with the chart released on Friday afternoon,” he says.

It may sound fanciful that an album of frog sounds could make the ARIA Charts, but The Bowerbird Collective team can boast precedent.

Last year their album Songs of Disappearance – Australian Bird Calls went gangbusters in the Top 10.

“We had high hopes but no realistic expectation of getting into the Top 20, let alone the Top 5, but the album debuted at number 5. The crazy media attention that came from that got us to number 3, and that was ahead of Ed Sheeran!” 

Ultimately, the album peaked at number 2. 

Anthony concedes that frog calls are a ‘harder sell’ than bird songs, but says Songs of Disappearance – Australian Frog Calls is already on track to reach the Top 10, based on pre-sale numbers.

“We’re encouraging people to give croaks a chance. These sounds are beautiful. They’re not melodic bird songs but they’re profound.”

Fittingly, albeit solemnly, the album ends with the calls of frog species that are now extinct.

“These final recordings were made decades ago.”

One of the croaks featured is that of the northern gastric brooding frog (Rheobatrachus vitellinus). 

“It’s the quintessential croak. It’s a deep, really resonate sound. And no one will ever hear it in the wild again.

“The final three species that we highlight were never recorded, so we used the sound of a mountain stream where they would have lived. It’s a moving experience.

“The album is both really enjoyable and beautiful, but also something we hope emotionally connects people with the issue of frogs being under threat.”

Anthony, together with his The Bowerbird Collective co-founder Simone Slattery produced the soundtrack for Australian Geographic: Our Country, a multi-sensory, immersive experience providing a never-before-seen perspective on Australia’s breathtaking landscapes and natural wonders.

The deep, evocative soundscape allows the audience to experience full, intense immersion. It draws on sounds recorded from natural environments, creatively mixed with a musical score built from a collaboration with Indigenous and non-Indigenous composers, sound designers and performers.

Related: 20 Aussie frogs you need to know about