Yat-Kha

Aldyn Dashka

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The third album from Yat-Kha finds them very much refining the process begun on their first two albums. The throat singing remains the central focus, but their way of framing it in a wondrous mix of modern and ancient instruments has become very subtle indeed, whether it's the reverse cymbals behind "Oy Adym" or the programming and textures of "Chedi Tei" and "Takh-Pakh Chaskhy Tan." As before, the guitar plays a very important part, played by bandleader Albert Kuvezin, giving a real jolt (along with Alexei Saaia's bass) to the acoustic lineup, and hurling it into another dimension, even though he doesn't use distortion or power chords. But the fact that six of the seven members sing is a certain indication that the most important thing is the throat singing, that Tuvan specialty which Kuvezin and company do so well. While comparisons with the best-known practitioners of the genre, Huun-Huur Tu, are perhaps inevitable, they'd be unfair. The clopping horse rhythms that typify Tuvan music (it comes from the fact that they rely on equine transport, as they have for centuries) are similar, but that's it. Yat-Kha has their own style which acknowledges the past but doesn't bow to it -- and looks forward into the 21st century. Think of this as the sound of the modern steppes, where Asia and the West really come together, and that strange, eerie overtone singing provides the soundtrack.

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