Sainkho Namtchylak

Who Stole the Sky

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It's easy to understand why Tuvan Sainkho Namtchylak has been an avant-garde icon for a long time; she's remarkable at producing the unexpected. But unlike many in her field, she also possesses a strong ear for melody, which makes her music accessible to a much wider audience. Both those strengths are on display here, along with her feeling for the music and the throat singing of her native land (very notably on the title cut and "Ohm Suhaa"). She can take a traditional piece like "Kaar Deerge" and turn it into something resembling a Celtic ballad, stripped and completely gorgeous. Then she can turn around and make something rhythmically compelling like "Runnin' Tapes" or strange like "Digital Mutation." By exercising the different facets of her personality, Namtchylak builds her typical unusual album with Who Stole the Sky, running from the contemporary to the past easily and naturally, and even venturing into almost jazzy territory on "Electric City." She embraces the idea of taking chances, of using odd juxtapositions and instruments (such as ghaita), and of singing that ranges from the lush to the elemental. This is as much, if not more, of a musical future as all the genre-mixing beats you're likely to find.

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