Dalai Beldiri
Wicklow, www.wicklowrecords.com

Of course, comparisons to Huun-Huur-Tu are inevitable. Although Tuvan throat-singing is threatening to become the next pygmy polyphonic chant or Bulgarian women's chorus in terms of most-appropriated-world-music vocals, there still aren't that many musical groups from Tuva to have hit the international circuit. In fact, the two groups are not unrelated, as leader Albert Kuvezin was a founding member of HHT. The difference between the two ensembles can be summarized by one instrumental sound: distorted electric guitar. This statement is disingenuous since the harp-like yat-kha is prominently featured by the eponymous group, but it does point out the philosophical difference in their approach to "popular" music. While HHT has followed a more folkloric (preservationist/revivalist) path and is more of a "roots" group, Yat-Kha has forged ahead and out by embracing the use of drum kit and electric guitar. This is not to say that they have abandoned or diluted their musical roots. And I have no gripes about non-Western musicians appropriating Western music much like Western musicians did to others in the past. It's just my own cultural bias, I suppose, that makes me cringe when a fuzz-tone electric guitar sound pops up between loping beats of a shamanic drum and the ghostly overtones of throat singing. - John Cho