THE SPIRIT OF THE STEPPES (THROAT SINGING FROM TUVA AND BEYOND)
Original Issue: 2000 Nascente (NSCD 058)
Margot-meter: 4,5 moons / 5
1. Borbangnadyr with stream water - Anatoli Kuular
2. Sigit, Kargiraa and khoomei - Gennadi Tumat
3. Dingildai - Igor Koshkendey
4. Manchurek Khem No.2 - Oozhak Khunashtaar-ool
5. Sygyt - Ondar mongun-ool
6. Khemchim - Yat-ka
7. Tscasky-chem yry - Opej Andrej & Tschetschek
8. Ugbazhkylar ooldary - The Tuva ensemble
9. Altain magtaal - Nanjid Sengedorj
10. Uyahan zambutivin naran - Sumya & Orchibat
11. Village melody in uzlyau style - Bibizada Suleymanova
12. To the master hunashtar-ool - Sainko Namtchylak
13. Kadarchy - Yat-kha
14. Lonely bird - Huun-huur-tu & The Bulgarian voices angelite
from The Wire:
"The Spirit of the Steppes" compiles some of the best examples of overtone singing from Tuva and nearby Mongolia, from both well-known names like Sainkho Namchylak and Huun-Huur-tu and more obscure figures like Oorzhak Khunashtaar-Ool and Ondar Mongun-Ool.
In fact, the less celebrated names (at least in the West) are the most uncanny. Either alone or with spare accompaniment from a three string lute, Khunashtaar-Ool and Mongun-Ool coax stark, eerie, frighteningly lonesome sounds from the farthest depths of their vocal cavities.
Tuva is a small republic nestled to the west of Mongolia, the art of khoomei singing recently becoming its biggest export. The term has lately been adopted to describe all of its fellow sub-styles, each revolving around the central principle of two (or sometimes three) simultaneous vocal parts resounding around the singer's inner caverns, playing a drone off against an oscillating melody line. It's a physically draining technique, but the rewards of its magical sound are well worth the effort.
This evocative selection displays a wide range of styles, from pristine minimalism to dirty rock fusion. A babbling stream provides backing for the solo voice of Anatoli Kuular's opening number, then Gennadi Tumat follows, accompanied by a gently cantering tyanzi lute (Tuvan songs often use a horsy gait as their rhythmic template). The third track introduces Igor Koshkendey's small combo, twinning male and female voices, and by the time we reach the fifth track, Ondar Mongun-Ool is virtually playing the blues. The Tuva Ensemble sprouted Huun-Huur-Tu (frequently found touring the West), which itself grew the Yat-Kha offshoot.
All three groups are well represented here, the latter boasting a fully electrified sound, their low vocal vibrations married to fuzz surf guitar, booming shamanic drums and twanging jaw harp.