Monday, 18 May 2009

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu - Gurrumul

It seems like I have been a bit slow on the uptake on this one. Having only heard the track "Wiyathul" a week ago on a CD sampler with the World Music magazine Songlines and being most impressed, I thought I had to investigate further and check out the album. So I did.

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, or simply Gurrumul, as he is known, isn't your run-of-the-mill artist, he is a blind-from-birth singer/songwriter/multi-musician, an indigenous Australian from Elcho Island, off the coast Northern Australia, who sings in the Yolngu language. There's nothing so strange about blind singers, but to the best of my knowledge I haven't got anything remotely Australian in my music collection whatsoever(However, I did own a cassette called "The Chant Of The Ecaluptus" featuring recordings of solo Didgeridoo tracks, which was great, for at least 30 seconds..) "Gurrumul" is a beautiful set of 12 songs sung in Gurrumul's native Yolngu language with a smattering of English. The vocals here are very fragile, sometimes double-tracked into harmonies and the arrangements boasting just acoustic guitar, occasional unintrusive electric guitar and little else. The beauty of this album is it's simplicity. The subject matter on some songs "Bäpa" and "Gurrumul History (I Was Born Blind)" could be percieved as depressing, but I found them to be quite inspiring and positve. The tempo of all the tracks are slow, there's nothing to dance to here. Only the last track "Wukun" picks up the pace, but just a little bit.

Gurrumul played a show at the Union Chapel, London last Wedneday, but I hadn't heard of him until Thursday. Shame, as I would have attended. Also it would seem that he appeared on the BBC's "Later With Jools Holland" televsion show a couple of weeks ago which means he will probably be a big star here in the UK, just like he is back in Australia where he has won several well-deserved awards.

Here is a clip of Gurrumul performing "Bäpa"

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