The Ainu are a native people from the island of Hokkaido in Northern Japan, the only natives still existing today from the Japan islands. Some Ainu tribes are also found on the Russian island of Sakhalin, north of Hokkaido. In Japan, they are almost gone; not many of their traditions are alive today. This CD was originally produced in 1980 by the Unesco, under the supervision of two ethnomusicologists dedicated to preserving the Ainu music. This is a 1993 release on the French Auvidis label. The Ainu are part of the shamanistic societies found all around Siberia. Their music is mainly sung, accompanied at times by some percussions. Interestingly, their songs are similar at times to the Inuit (or Eskimo) katajak of Northern Canada (a kind of throat singing). They have very few other instruments not heard on the CD. This CD presents 14 Ainu traditional songs. It is a tribute to a people who were already disappearing in 1980 when these songs were recorded.
AllMusic Review by Bruno Deschênes