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Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu: Gurrumul

img  Tobias Fischer

Indigenous Australian multi-instrumentalist Yunupingu was born blind, but at age 40 has thus far not learned Braille or gotten himself a guide dog or even a white cane. This becomes less puzzling when you know he’s an intensely shy person who paved his way singing in his native Yolŋu Matha tongue as a founding member of Aboriginal folk unit Yothu Yindi ("child and mother"), winning Australian record industry awards along the way.

This is all well and good, a Public Radio slam-dunk of course, but listening to Yunupingu’s smoky, quivering, much-lauded voice – like a sped-up Harry Belafonte – I honestly don’t hear a huge difference between it and the plaintive outcries of folk artists from anywhere else in the world, up to and including the States. Slow-strummed campfire guitar leads his voice through these tales, many of which ultimately sound as though they were cut for New Agers contemplating their navels at the ashram – I’ve been there, so don’t take that as a diss, but – and don’t take this as a diss, either, as your mileage may vary – the man’s lonely wailing, much of which dwells in minor keys, is a little too wounded-sounding for me to put it into heavy rotation.

But don’t mind me – I got thrown out of the ashram when I cranked Ministry during the “Meditation for Grandparents Whose Dogs Recently Died” workshop.

By Eric Saeger

Homepage: Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu
Homepage: Dramatico Entertainment

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