Yat-Kha / Aldyn Dashka
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Aldyn Dashka

Yat-Kha (www.yat-kha.com)

cd cover Led by Albert Kuvezin, veteran of the celebrated traditional Tuvan group Huun-Huur-Tu, Yat-Kha's Aldyn Dashka effectively blends the other-wordly sounds of Tuvan throat-singing, with its deep-bass snarls and celestial harmonics, and Tuvan traditional instruments with electric guitar and bass. Yat-Kha displays a breathtaking range of vocal styles from the Tuvan Republic, hinterland of the hinterlands, and features virtuosic playing on a range of Tuvan instruments like the igil, a two-stringed fiddle and the jew's harp. The group has frequently been described as a kind of Tuvan punk band, but this description fails to capture what they are really about. For Aldyn Dashka is a collection of traditional songs, dealing with such subjects as reindeer herds, horses, green steppes, high mountains, the beauty of Tuvan girls, a comrade of Genghis Khan, and araka, a wine made from fermented milk, in short, all the staples of Tuvan pastoral life. The tunes are rich, varied, and eminently hummable; even my fourteen year-old, raised on MTV, loves to sing along. Kuvezin's guitar playing is often raucous but it is also appropriately atmospheric, complementing and filling out the mood of a song rather than sounding like formulaic world fusion music (Tuvan + electric guitar). In any case, when Kuvezin hits a gutbucket bass note augmented by a stratispheric harmonic high note, the effect is both chillingly beautiful and sounds weirder than any electronic instrument could produce. Aldyn Dashka is truly stunning accomplishment. - Ted Swedenburg

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