The Magic Carpathians

Ethnocore 2: Nytu

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Ethnocore 2: Nytu is the latest installment in the ongoing series of recordings from Anna Nacher and Marek Stryczychnski of the Polish avant folk band Atman. Previous issues under the Magic Carpathians moniker have been explorations of the various musics of the Carpathian Mountains and the countries into which the mountain range extends. In some sense this is another chapter in that series, exploring vocal and instrumental techniques such as the technique of the nytu and mystical vocal techniques from the languages of ancient Slav rituals. These techniques have virtually disappeared from modern culture, except in remote regions of the territory where the old Carpathian culture is, at least in part, practiced. Nacher is a formidable vocalist, as much a student of various traditions as she is an exponent of them. To look deeply into a musical tradition that has all but disappeared, it appears that the Magic Carpathians sought to look musically from the outside in. They've enlisted the aid of Marek Miczyk from the Suns of Arqva and Beata Kozak and Slawka Walczewska of the Woman's Foundation in Krakow for elemental, atmospheric, and textural support. The music is, if anything, folk music, because it is formed entirely of folk traditions from areas in the Carpathian region and eastward, but embodies none of them in its entirety. There are many ways to bring out this music, trance-like and droning as it is; one of them is with choirs and layers of voices. Another is with the percussive integrity of the didgeridoo, still others by using brass instruments. And while there are individual "songs" marked, the recording feels like a ceremony of communication -- and not in some cheeseball Deep Forest, Baka Beyond, or Banco de Gaia way, either. These sounds are sophisticated and primitive. There are no samples. There is no borrowing. There are the sounds of audio tape, but they are static noise against which new music can be created. Nacher's singing ranges across all four octaves, and she uses them. She has an ability to chant a Hindu death mantra by using a scale from old Polish folk music that is entrancing and spooky. Stryczychnski ropes together various elements from folk traditions, free jazz, and modern improvisation, and creates a large musical backdrop for Nacher and her collaborators to jump from. And Miczyk's experience -- via the Suns of Arva -- with dub and sound manipulation creates dimensions in the music and dialogue that swallow the listener whole. This is a textural and mysterious work; it challenges our previously held notions about what contemporary music is -- and Ethnocore 2: Nytu fits perfectly as such -- by drenching us in a primordial ooze of a past most of us never knew existed. Awesome.

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