Where Young Grass Grows
Shanachie (

Huun-Huur-Tu is making the inevitable move toward globalization that comes with worldwide touring and collaboration with foreign musicians, but so far they have managed to retain their own unique identity and remain firmly rooted in Tuvan traditional sounds. By now the novel aspects of multi-tonal throat singing do not need to be featured to help sell their work. Compared to their previous albums there is a richer harmonic (in the traditional Western sense) texture, and such Tuvan anomalies as the harp, Scottish pipes, and synthesizer make their appearance. However, they remain unobtrusively in the background (the synthesizer is used to generate a virtual wind storm), and one gets the sense that the quartet has a mature, rooted sense of where they want to go with their music. The highlight for me, though, are the excerpts of field recordings made by ethnomusicologist Ted Levin (Smithsonian Folkways's Tuva, Among The Spirits, reviewed below) of throat-singing while on horseback. The music, restored to its physical context, suddenly makes so much more sense. - John Cho

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