Huun Huur Tu
[World Village (2010)]
Some of the planet’s oddest sounds are created by Khoomei (throat-singing) group, Huun Huur Tu. Manipulating their throats and diaphragms to simultaneously produce 3 or 4 distinct tones, the group has transformed the musical traditions of the former Soviet Republic of Tuva, in the foothills of the Mongolian Mountains, into an international phenomenon.
A return to the roots-oriented sound of their earlier work, following a series of more modern, synthesizer-driven recordings, Ancestor’s Call radiates with sonic warmth and sensibility. Though several tunes were previously featured on prior albums, new recordings give them an aural depth unheard in the past. Huun Huur Tu may have appeared to be archaic folk musicians, discovered by ethno-musicologists, when their debut album was released in 1994, but they’ve made incredible strides as world performers. It may reflect a commitment to musical roots, but Ancestor’s Call shows a band transcending the limitations of folk music and aiming successfully at the pinnacle of world music.
Collaborations with chamber orchestras and electronica wiz Carmen Rizzo are reflected in the lush, harmonic, foundations of each piece. Founding member Kaigal-ool Khovalg sets the pace with poly-toned throat singing and igil (a 2-stringed, bowed, spike fiddle) playing. Sayan Bapa, Radik Tulush, and Alexei Saryglar fill out the sound with complex, interlocking throat-singing and virtuosic playing on a variety of traditional Tuvan instruments including doshpuluur (a fretless Tuvan lute), shoor (an end-blown wooden flute), and percussion instruments including a shaman’s drum, a horse’s hoof, and a rattle made from a bull’s testicles. Former member of Tuvan rock band, Yat Gha, Tulush makes his presence felt on Huun Huur Tu’s sound with high-pitched (sygyt) singing and melodic shoor playing. Reproduced sounds of galloping horses, birds and crickets add to the album’s aural pleasures.
—Craig Harris (Chicopee, MA)
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