Sounds of the World's The Exotic Sounds of Yma Sumac features some of the enigmatic exotica diva's best-known and definitive recordings, including "Xtabay (Lure of the Unknown Love)," "Taita Inty (Virgin of the Sun God)," and "Ataypura (High Andes)." Much of the first half of the collection is devoted to tracks from Fuego del Ande, a collection of South American folk songs that is considered one of her weaker albums, and it's easy to see why: Though her voice is as flamboyant as ever, the conventional arrangements and structures of the songs dilute its impact. Fortunately, the second half of the album is more in keeping with her definitive sound, with Sumac's unearthly voice soaring above or swooping below strings, percussion, and vibes on songs like "Tumpa (Earthquake)," "Accla Taqui (Chant of the Chosen Maidens)," and "Choladas (Dance of the Moon Festival)." The approach is used to a playful effect on "Wayra (Dance of the Winds)" and an eerie one on "Birds," where the repetitive bassline and her undulating, ululating vocals sound downright ominous. "Birds" is one of three tracks from the short-lived musical Flahooley, which makes it rather unique among Yma Sumac collections. While Voice of the Xtabay & Other Exotic Delights and The Ultimate Yma Sumac Collection are more thorough compilations of Sumac's work, The Exotic Sounds of Yma Sumac still offers a good sampling of her distinctive style.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares