Thursday, 23 July 2009

Telegraph 5 out of 5 for Gurrumul's Queen Elizabeth Hall Show

"'World music' is such a catch all phrase, it can act like a suffocating blanket thrown over the most varied sonic terrain on the planet, damping down the uniqueness of indigenous music. But every now and then a singular voice manages to float up and really make itself heard around the world, usually because it blends esoteric style with rich tone, virtuoso control and something a little bit more, a quality of intrinsic humanity that stirs recognition no matter what the listeners’ cultural background.

Geoffrey Gurrumal Yunupingu has such a voice. A blind 39-year-old Aboriginal from the tiny Australian island of Elcho who sings in the obscure Yolngu language, Gurrumal (as he is known) has had one of the breakout world albums of the year, and it is down to a voice that resonates emotion. In Western parlance you would say Gurrumal has soul.

He cuts a strange figure as he is led out onto the stage at the Queen Elizabeth Hall by his producer and musical director Michael Hohnen, a wry, white Australian double bass player. Blind since birth, Gurrumal moves with the jerkiness of a marrionette and stares out into the audience with a kind of uncompromising selfness, no dark glasses, no showmanship, no pretension.

He sits on a stool, plays simple plucked guitar (left handed and upside down), and sings his own uncomplicated compositions, songs rich with a spirit of yearning and consolation. The sound he makes is extraordinary."

Read the full review on the Daily Telegraph site here

Buy the album "Gurrumul" on Amazon here