Ex-Yothu Yindi rocker, Gurrumul makes a poised, experimental solo début.

For many years the voice of Yothu Yindi, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu is a musician gifted with an almost transcendental ability to find his mark. Originally from the Gumatj clan in East Arnhemland, in Australia's Northern Territory, the musical ability of Gurrumul (his traditional name) was noticed at an early age. As a 15-year-old, he joined indigenous rockers Yothu Yindi, where his sweetly hewn voice and instrumental skills marked him out as a pivotal player. There are many strings to Gurrumul’s bow and this self-titled solo album is possibly the most vibrant of an already full career.

Listeners familiar with the harder sounds of Yothu Yindi are in for a surprise. The 12 songs on Gurrumul display an altogether softer side of their author. Sung in his local dialect with occasional forays into English (full translations are provided), these are songs that are truly personal. Ancestral images are conjured up and the land and its inhabitants realized in poetic and vivid ways. Although Gurrumul has been blind since birth, he sees much. Instrumentation is kept simple – acoustic guitars, some double bass and harmonies – and to the point. This is quiet, poised and an exceptional album.


New Internationalist issue 423 magazine cover This article is from the June 2009 issue of New Internationalist.
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