Gurrumulby Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu
Singing in his native Yolngu tongue, Gurrumul Yunupingu uses his self-titled debut (he had previously been part of the massively successful Yothu Yindi) to showcase a vocal talent rarely heard in any culture, but especially surprising against the backdrop of the usually repetitive, frenetic Australian Aboriginal forms. While traditional Aboriginal music tends to be loud and percussive (particularly with the clapsticks), Gurrumul opts for an extremely soft delivery, laying ethereal vocals over the top of a soft acoustic guitar and a double bass only. While the more progressive Aboriginal groups tend toward a political message, often in English to aid its spread, Gurrumul opts for a focus on the music itself, singing in a more geographically isolated language and using lyrical content related more often to his own life experiences. The music moves along from track to track, popping into English briefly midway, but otherwise flowing seemingly without a break in the ambience. The sound is in many ways otherworldly, but rather than being the result of production and manipulation, the sound is solely the result of Gurrumul's voice and his skill with sparse compositions that accompany and fill out the sound without drawing undue notice of their own accord. An excellent album all around, this debut will serve those unacquainted with the relevant Aboriginal sounds as well as -- if not better than -- those who are familiar with the traditions. Gurrumul is sure to make himself a lot of fans as awareness of this album spreads.
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