Various Artists

The Secret Museum of Mankind: Music of Central Asia, 1925-1948

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Not only the dissatisfaction of the proletariat class was burgeoning in Russia during the first decade of the 20th century. A recording industry was flourishing, one that was competing with western European companies for an "ethnic music" market. By drawing on the musicality of its neighboring central Asian minorities, this Russian industry was provided with the sounds to succeed. This superb CD is a compilation of 26 of these early recordings. Many of the ensembles heard on this release utilize highly developed vocal techniques, small-bodied long-necked lutes, reed pipes, and compact drums. The reason for this similarity in instrumentation is due to the fact that many central Asian cultures were nomadic and, thus, required their belongings to be portable. Because these recordings are old, you may hear an occasional skip and crackle of the needle. These extrinsic characteristics do not take away from the beauty of the music. If anything, the minor pops and hisses serve to remind listeners of the historical import of these recordings.

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