CHASING STARS TO THE MOTHER TREE
The opening Running on the Red Sand erupts from the speakers with air-raid siren urgency. The piece is a dialogue between Gumaroy Newman’s yidaki and clapsticks and Keyna Wilkins’ flute, and the hurtling rhythmic momentum draws you in as swiftly as a gripping chase sequence at the opening of a film. The duo is called Yulugi, and title of this short debut album references the story of Berriberri (Orion) pursuing Miai-miai (Pleiades) across the skies, and cornering this star-cluster in a tree, where each member is transformed into a cockatoo.
Wilkins swaps between flute and piano, always with a keen instinct for making a given piece’s narrow harmonic world as vibrant as possible, and for sharing and amplifying the phenomenal rhythmic firepower with which Newman plays the yidaki. Then there’s the duo’s third variant: Newman as story-teller. I’ve heard them do this live, and his voice had an utterly compelling quality that has not been fully caught on this recording. The upshot is that the well-intentioned Mother Earth rings hollower than it should, although the spoken-word is more effective on Let’s Be Grey (about not seeing people in terms of their skin colour).