Yat-Kha

Yenisei Punk

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Think of Yat-Kha as the new wave of Tuvan throat singing, with its mystical, eerie overtones that seem unearthly. But to that sound, made popular by the likes of Huun-Huur Tu and traditional instruments like the tungur, they added electric guitar and, far more importantly, a sense of Western post-punk rock dynamics. The guitar features sparingly, used on "Solun Chaagai Sovet Churtum," "Karangailyg Kara Hovaa," and most effectively on "Kadarchy," where band leader Albert Kuvezin weaves a remarkably bluesy riff as the basis of the tune. But the sense that this band has listened to plenty of Western rock is there in their more traditional pieces -- which is most of the record. "Toorugutg Taiga," for example, has at least five things going on at once, with strings lines bowed and plucked, percussion, and voices working off each other in a stunning arrangement. For much of the time, the famed throat singing isn't really to the fore, concentrating more on the songs themselves, but on the epic closing "Kargyram," Kevezin unleashes an unaccompanied ten-minute tour de force of vocal overtone work that seems impossible, especially when the overtones take over, but it really, a display of rare virtuosity. Unlike most of their countrymen, Yat-Kha don't want to just keep the past alive; they want to integrate it into a musical future. That's their manifesto, laid out so eloquently here, and wonderful it is, too.

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