Gurrumul’s goodbye gift
Gurrumul Yunupingu’s posthumous album arrives ahead of a documentary on his amazing life and career out later this month.
His family have given permission for his name and image to be used again to “ensure his legacy will continue to inspire his people and Australians more broadly”.
It’s now 10 years since his self-titled debut reached No.3.
Djarimirri (or Child of the Rainbow) had been four years in the making and was finished weeks before his death last July.
This is an intense, emotional statement. Clearly inspired by his live work with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (captured on a 2013 live album), it’s a modern classical work with seriously traditional themes.
Each work is a traditional Yolngu song or chant with the musicians — producer Michael Hohnen, arranger Erkki Veltheim and members of the SSO and Australian Chamber Orchestra — creating an ethereal soundscape.
Sometimes it’s gorgeous and uplifting as the strings dance around (Waak), other times it’s deeply minimal and moody.
The title track recalls the experimental classical work by Brian Eno or Phillip Glass — these aren’t just strings tacked on, the attention to detail is astounding. They indicate tension (Djilawurr) or majesty (Djapana) or a haunting melody on Djolin.
The traditional sounds are incredibly stirring on moments such as Galiku (the musicians sometimes translate didgeridoo patterns by using instruments such as cellos) and obviously it’s all about remembering that magical, unmistakeable voice one final time.
This is an epic listening experience on every level and a very special way to remember an incredible performer.
VERDICT A parting gift to the world