Sunday, December 13, 2009

Top 10 Albums of 2009

9 Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu – Gurrumul
Gurrumul is mostly just Geoffrey and his acoustic guitar. Left-handed he plays a right-handed guitar Jimmy Hendrix style. Almost all the lyrics are sung in Gälpu, Gumatj or Djambarrpuyŋu (languages of the Indigenous people of north-east Arnhemland which are part of the Yolŋu Matha group of languages) with occasional fragments in English. Born into the Gumatj clan on Elcho Island, and blind since birth he is renowned for being intensely shy.

I can't remember exactly where, but I first heard him sing on a TV show sometime in late 2008. He seemed utterly out of place in the phony atmosphere of a day-time TV studio, but his remarkable voice cut through everything around him and you had the feeling that everyone was holding their breath as he sang. It sounds ridiculous, but it is one of those voices that sounds completely outwith normal time and space, ancient and modern, as if all his ancestors, family and history have manifested themselves in the vocal chords of this one diminutive, unassuming body. Listening to him sing never fails to calm and lift my spirits, inspirational music in its true sense.

No comments: