Island of the Hungry Ghosts is a hybrid documentary that moves between the natural, human and spiritual worlds. Located off the coast of Indonesia, the Australian territory of Christmas Island is inhabited by migratory crabs travelling in their millions from the jungle towards the ocean, in a movement that has been provoked by the full moon for hundreds of thousands of years. Poh Lin Lee is a trauma therapist who lives with her family in this seemingly idyllic paradise. Every day, she talks with the asylum seekers held indefinitely in a high-security detention centre hidden in the island’s core, attempting to support them in a situation that is as unbearable as its outcome is uncertain. As Poh Lin and her family explore the island’s beautiful yet threatening landscape, the local islanders carry out their “hungry ghost” rituals for the spirits of those who died on the island without a burial. They make offerings to appease the lost souls who are said to be wandering the jungles at night looking for home.
This album presents the original score Aaron Cupples created for the film. Rich in texture and harmonics, the music is characterised by the bespoke instruments and recording techniques employed in its creation. The soundtrack also features sound recordist Leo Dolgan’s vivid field recordings. All captured on Christmas Island, the four pieces recall insect choruses, strange and ominous bird calls, erupting blowholes, fire, ocean, and Buddhist prayers for the dead.
Night The Understorey Blowholes The Long Walk Trapped Air The Hungry Ghost Fire & Jungle The Portester Ocean & Prayers Sand Return