Uragsha: Instrumental And Vocal Music From Buryatia And Mongolia
Neither Mongolia nor Buryatia are at immediate risk of inundation by western tourists. From where we sit, both can be used to define "remoteness." Mongolia is located at the center of Asia, between China and Siberia, and Buryatia is in Eastern Siberia near Lake Baikal, to the north of Mongolia. I treasure recordings from this region and was pleased to get my hands on a copy of Uragsha. Uragsha consists of Sayan Zhambalov, Erzhena Zhambalov and Battuvshin, each of whom is an accomplished artist in Siberia, and who were brought together by Yara Arts Group in New York for these recordings. The recordings are a bit "raw", just as I like them, and devoid of the tendencies to popularize that too often appear in a world music recording. This is the real thing, the mood and instruments from inner Asia. The bish khur (a reed instrument), morin khur (horse-head fiddle), khun khur (swan-head plucked instrument), flute (limbe) and even the shaman's drum (khese) all convey a gut-felt strength not often encountered. I've also become enamored of how global and versatile the jaw harp can be - that instrument alone can open your ears. There's some very effective "throat singing" on Uragsha, but not so that it detracts from the whole. Each of the compositions takes its course. By allowing them to develop, they acquire a richness not found in more commercial packaging. Kudos to Global Village, a label destined to reach ever farther afield in its quest for musical discovery and artistic advocacy. - Richard Dorsett
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