Gurrumul's posthumous masterpiece is almost here
NOTICE: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island readers are advised that the following story contains images and voices of people who have died.
The final chapter in the story of Gurrumul, the highest selling Indigenous musician of all time and an Australian icon, will be written on April 13 with the release of Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow).
The first track from the album, Djolin (Musical Instrument) was released March 26, unveiling the fusion of two grand traditions into one of the most ambitious projects in Australian music history.
Over four years in the making, and completed just weeks before his passing in 2017, Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow) is Gurrumul's gift to the world, presenting traditional songs and harmonised chants from his traditional Yolngu life with dynamic and hypnotic orchestral arrangements, in a blend of both his culture and our European orchestral culture.
It's a final message.
A window into his culture.
Long-time musical collaborator and friend Michael Hohnen said this is a recording of an iconic artist at his creative peak, and a legacy that will not be surpassed.
"Last year we sat and listened to these recordings over and over again, from beginning to end and piece by piece, pulling them apart and putting them back together until all elements shone," he said.
"We had finished the incredible process, preparing to release it and then we lost him.
"We had played many of the pieces live over the past few years of touring and planned how the pieces would work before we recorded them in the studio.
"He was immensely proud of what we achieved on this album and it is an emotional experience for all of us to present this final enormous chapter in his story with this musical statement."
"The album aligns Australian traditional music alongside a European mainstream pop/classical tradition with complex but subtle changes and repetition in the orchestral parts.
"This album is inspired by composers from the early baroque to Stravinsky, Arvo Part and the American minimalist contemporary classical tradition of Phillip Glass, Steve Reich, Michael Nyman, Max Richter and many others to bring two worlds together," Hohnen said.
The album will be unveiled on April 13, ahead of the cinema release of Gurrumul, a documentary tracking the artist's life and achievements, written and directed by Paul Williams.
The film had a standing ovation during its international premiere last week at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival and will be released in Australia on April 25.
Gurrumul's family has allowed for his image and name to be used after the final funeral ceremony "to ensure that his legacy will continue to inspire both his people and the Australian more broadly."