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Old 09-19-2008, 08:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Gurrumel by Geoffrey Gurrumel Yunupingu



This is an album that has unfortunately come to the attention of very few outside of Australia and even then has not received the attention it deserves in some of the more commercial outlets in Geoffrey Gurrumel Yunupingu's homeland. Geoffrey Gurrumel Yunupingu is from the Gumatj nation, his mother from the Galpu nation both First Nations peoples from North East Arnhemland in the Northern Territory. Geoffrey was born blind and is by nature a very softly spoken and shy young man of few words.
Geoffrey has a myspace site that is worth a read for further information and a listen. After seeing Geoffrey perform on a TV show on Australia's ABC, a taxpayer funded television network, I purchased this album at the first opportunity. This is an album that may be placed under the increasingly misused "world music" genre. To me the album has a quiet nature of beautifully soft acoustic songs that are sung in a gentle almost childlike nature. There is simple pureness in delivery and playing that lets the words, though sung mostly in native languages, come across with sincerity. The album packaging has the words in the various tribal languages with English translations.

There are many tracks that standout. Songs such as Gurrumel ( I Was Born Blind) has a lyric that tells of a sad but uplifting story.

"I was born blind, and I don't know why
God knows why, because he love me so
as I grew up, my spirit knew,
then I learnt to read the world of destruction
united we'll stand, in solidarity

I head my mama and my papa
crying their hearts in confusion
how can I walk? straight and tall
in society please hold my hand
trying to bridge and build Yolnu culture
I've been to New York
I've been to LA
I've been to London

United we stand divided we fall
together we'll stand in solidarity"

Baywara a song about the ancestors. Gathu Mawula and Galupa are songs of the homeland.

The song Marwurrumburr is a personal favourite with a beautifully played acoustic guitar and Geoffrey singing to the wild cats that come out at night.

So is this just another album by a native singer that guilt ridden westerners purchase just to get that feel good factor and warm inner glow? I would hope not. The songs themselves stand up to scrutiny. They are well played and Geoffrey's singing is very good. For those that would like to hear an album of quiet and reflective songs from indigenous Australia I recommend a listen.

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Old 11-03-2008, 05:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Thanks for the review.
A degree more information would be nice.
I shall be having a listen.
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Old 11-03-2008, 06:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I've never heard of this guy before, but I'll definitely be looking to check his music out sometime in there near future. A great, well-written and incisive review - cheers for posting it
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Old 11-03-2008, 06:37 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FireInCairo View Post
Thanks for the review.
A degree more information would be nice.
I shall be having a listen.
What further information would you like?
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Old 11-03-2008, 06:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I more meant, more detail.
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Old 11-03-2008, 07:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FireInCairo View Post
I more meant, more detail.
Ok. Not sure what to add further but I will try.

First I misspelt his name. It should be Gurrumul so if a Mod can fix that up I would be very appreciative.

His album is not a radical new acoustic sound. In fact the beauty of it is the simplicity and spirit of the songs. Think of Nick Drakes Pink Moon I guess though I am uncomfortable with that comparison.
I tend to read the lyrics translations from the cover notes so as to take in an understanding of the meaning of his songs. His voice has been described by a friend as angelic and that is apt. My wife enjoys it, always a plus . It is very much a sunny Sunday morning or late night listen as it is a very soft and quite recording.

There was a 2 part series on Geoffrey played over 2 evening's by Australia's ABC. You can have a look and listen here >>>>>.

Since posting this he has begun to get a bit more mainstream recognition due to various awards such as ARIA's and various other awards within the indigenous community. Link to quote. >>>>>
Quote:
SIR ELTON JOHN and Sting are among his fans and his solo album, Gurrumul debuted at No. 24 on the ARIA chart and No. 1 on the independent chart.

Yesterday, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, the blind indigenous musician from Elcho Island, Arnhem Land who sings in Yolngu language, became a multiple ARIA nominee, picking up four nominations, including in the coveted categories of best male artist and album of the year.

Yunupingu avoided interviews at yesterday's nominations press call, held at Carriageworks at Eveleigh. His friend, producer and music collaborator Michael Hohnen, told SiT the singer was not motivated by fame or the media spotlight.

"The whole ARIAs is built around hype [and] he is still really trying to work out what it all means to him. I think he will be really happy when he is back telling people in Darwin and at home," Hohnen said. "The album reviews have had very little impact I was reading him these words that sound really amazing from a journalist's point of view [but] for him the recognition he is getting now from being met at airports and people coming up and telling him they love his music. Those sorts of reactions are really touching for him."
When I have seen him perform on TV he has seemingly gained a bit of confidence and can even say hello to his audience, he is very very shy. He was a member of a band called Yothu Yindi who had a major hit in Australia called Treaty.

Hope that all helps.
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Old 11-03-2008, 07:37 AM   #7 (permalink)
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cheers, that was a nice addition.
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Old 11-11-2008, 12:54 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I have a Yothu Yindi album (Tribal Voice). It was pleasant enough but apart from the vocal work it did'nt leave a lasting impression. I may check out this though. Another great review too.
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Old 11-12-2008, 02:00 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Great review, I really want to check this artist out after his ARIA win. Or wins? Anyway, nice work and you've inspired me to have a more of a listen
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