Friday, March 19, 2004

Kondor-Ol Ondar
glisten globally: week one

I'm not even gonna pretend this is for everyone, but if you've never heard a Tuvan song before?

Boy do I have something new for you.

Tuva is a tiny Asian country whose indigenous people engage in an utterly unique method of music making: throat singing. This style of vocalism allows for multiple overtones, sounds that "vibrate" in a manner similar to the Bulgarian music that we heard yesterday. Tuvan singers are able to manipulate their vocal cords in such a manner that they are able to sing in two voices simultaneously, a'la Roland Kirk.

How is this done? Here's a quote from the liner notes of a Tuvan recording via this source:

"(T)he vocal cords of the Tuvinian people are anatomically the same as those of other people. But a previously unknown mechanism of vocal cords and larynx was discovered: when air is pressed out, two strictures form in the larynx. Then one voice is produced normally by the vocal cords; the other voice originates when the gristle of larynx and epiglottis approach each other, cover the vocal cords and leave an opening in the middle of just 1 to 1.5 mm diameter. By moving the tip of the tongue to and fro on the palate [of the mouth], the different harmonics originate.

Generally one of these voices forms a deep bass tone, while the other wheedles above the bass in a tinny "glassy" chorus. This creates a transcendental and almost electronic sound.

Tuvan throat singing, or khoomei as it's called in Tuva, is no longer quite as esoteric a musical interest as it was even five years ago, thanks greatly to the Oscar nomination of the documentary "Ghengis Blues", the amazing story of a blind Western blues musician who taught himself throat singing (and the tuvan language) and travelled to Tuva to compete in a khoomei competition. Even though "Ghengis Blues" did not win the Oscar (that was "Thoth"'s year to win and we'll run into him in the Hut sooner or later) the film's exposure via NPR and other similar outlets raised the music public's IQ on the subject considerably.

Today's selections all hail from the sadly out of print album "Deep in the Heart of Tuva." Released by the wonderful Ellipsis Arts... (who do not seem to have either kept many of their albums available or to maintain a current online home), "Deep in the Heart" follows Ellipsis' regular publishing method: a book length essay packed along with a CD of tunes. If you can find a copy, this is a GREAT introduction to indigenous Tuvan music, both for the tracks and the copious documentation included.

If you CAN'T find a copy, that's what I'm here for.

Happy Friday. Enjoy the sounds of Tuva. Drive your cubiclemates nuts.


Bilchi Maa Daava - "Hoomi Lullaby"

According to this aforementioned online paper, Bilchi was "one of the last women to learn to throat-sing before the performance of khoomei by women became taboo."

Here she demonstrates some of the versatility of the style; eschewing the traditionally rough glottalgrind of the male performance for sonic slipandslide.

I'd love to hear a whole album of lullabyes from different countries; it's so strange that the things that we consider calming vary so greatly from culture to culture. Actually, I used to fall asleep to this album, so maybe we're not so very different after all.

"Deep In the Heart of Tuva" is indeed out of print but a few used copies are available from Amazon. Get 'em while they're hot.
This is the closest thing I could find to an Ellipsis Arts discography online. They really were one hell of a publishing company. I wonder where they went?
The Music of Tuva section at Friends of Tuva is extensive and informative.
Huun Huur Tu's official site
You might remember these guys from yesterday's Bulgarianstravaganza.
They're probably the best known Tuvan folk group.


Kongar-Ol Ondar - "Medley of Throat Singing Styles"

Kongar is one of the premier performers of khoomei and is one of the featured artists on the "Ghengis Blues" soundtrack.

Kongar gives you a little taste of the amazing things the human voice can do.

He's recorded with Zappa. Musta been a helluva weird session, ya figure?

An interview with Kongar-Ol Ondar from the great Giantrobot.com emagazine.
Kongar-Ol Ondar's official site
Jeez, EVERYBODY'S online these days, huh?
Interesting essay on Tuvan song technique and tradition


Paul 'Earthquake' Pena - Kargyraa Moan

Paul Pena is the subject of the aforementioned "Ghengis Blues", the blind singer who taught himself khoomei. Paul has played professionally with Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. His synthesis of traditional American blues with traditional Tuvan khoomei is a thing of beauty.

Kargyraa is a specific style of khoomei, grounded in a gravediggerdeep growly bass that bears some comparison to traditional Buddhist circular breath chants.

This is a live recording from a throat singing competition.

Paul Pena's official website
Paul's lost A LOT of weight, presumably owing to his battle with pancreatitis. The last update on the page was in 2002 and I don't knows how Pena's doing now (Google is inconclusive), but why not drop a few bucks on the poor cat here?
The current rate is 99cents for a single,yes?
Do th' right thing.
The official "Ghengis Blues" website comes complete with plenty of downloadable music.
Why not learn to speak Tuvan yourself?


Yat Kha - Yenisei Punk

Yat Kha is a real jaw dropper: a group of Tuvan singers who perform a fusion of Tuvan traditional and modern rock. While this SOUNDS like a horrible idea, in practice it's chocolate and peanut butter.

Quite a few Yat Kha albums are available at Amazon; stop by and sample some more.

Their most recent album has yet to see a US release. Anybody wanna try and get these guys on MTV?

Yat Kha's official site
The Tuva Trader has all manner of Tuvan music and memorabilia for sale.
The always interesting Ubuweb offers a selection of audio clips and notes on Tuvan music.


I'm off to Miami for the weekend, so you'll see no posting out of me until Monday, when we should PROBABLY return (maybe Tuesday is more realistic) with a new mix CD review and a whole 'nother week of glisten globally; featuring the sax of Manu Dibango, the sounds of the Babenzele Pygmies, the beautiful Susana Baca, African pop from the 50's by Dorothy Masuka and a mixed bag of worldwide sounds.
The outpouring of niceness in yesterday's comment box was received with a warm and greedy heart. You make me want to shame you into responding everyday. So respond! Respond! Even yesterday's lovefest represented only 1 in every 45 of you who stopped by! I love to hear from you, even if it's just a brief "i liked it"; plus I enjoy rummaging through your homepages. You guys are into neat stuff. Share.

not so spiffy

On the completely serious tip, I was saddened to hear the news that Tammy Faye Messner has been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.

Tammy was pilloried in the press due to her, shall we say, eccentric manner; but really, it's a Southern thang. Though I certainly don't agree with EVERYTHING she spouts, I DO believe that she means well and that she's done quite a bit of good in the greater scheme of things. For a walking talking Precious Moments doll with a wicked sense of humour, she comes off pretty goddamn well.

You can read more about Tammy Faye here, here and here.

I also recommend the excellent documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

And, why not? Here's a bouncyass song from one of Tammy's many sockpuppetchristdrama children's albums, "Oops, There Comes a Smile!"

"I don't label people," chirps Tammy Faye. "God didn't make any junk."

Bless her heart. I wish her well.

beluga caveat

I'll be posting a variation of this comment in the sidebar afore too long, but I feel sort of naked without the following warning:

Although every effort has been made to verify the authenticity of the information contained in this blog, google journalism has its limits. As such, it is completely possible that you may find errors, statistical slips or outright garbage lies mixed in a few of these articles.

The author shouts mea culpa but implores you to contact him if you discover a mistake so that he can rectify the situation.

Similarly, please be aware that although I have visited all the sites cited, I cannot vouch for the veracity of the material (much less the politics) of my linkage.

Click at your own peril and surf with a grain of salt. As always, your milage may vary.

Aaaaah. Much better.

iPod gym playlist vol. 2

This is the third new playlist since the last one I posted, but it's all new to you, right? Not yet battle tested; I just put it together tonight.

1. Just Blaze - "Street Vol.2 BleeknFreeMix"
2. Kanye West with Talib Kweli and Common - "Get 'Em High"
3. Underworld - "Mamanuxxjam Live"
4. Ce'Cile - "Rude Bwoy Thug Life"
5. Basement Jaxx with Dizzee Rascal - "Lucky Star"
6. Von Bondies - "C'mon C'mon"
7. Kanye West - "Thru the Wire"
8. Ty - "Ha Ha"
9. Allister - "Fraggle Rock Theme"
10. Jeru the Damaja - "Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers"
11. Ghostface Killah - Run (Pistol Pete Remix)
12. !!! - "Intensify"
13. Method Man - "Ain't A Damn Thing Changed"
14. Modest Mouse - "Bukowski"
15. Brandy with Twista - "Full Moon Remix"
16. Generacion - "Toma Que Toma"
17. Journey - "Don't Stop Believing"
18. R. Kelly with Cassidy (I agree witchoo SUPERVILLAIN) - "Hotel"
19. TATU - "Ne Ver Ne Bojsia"
20. Electric 6 - "Gay Bar" (yes, STILL and STILL)
21. Doctor Who Theme (80's Version)
22. Matthew Dear - "Dog Days"
23. Strictly Kev - "Raiding the 20th Century"
24. TATU - "Klouny"
25. Four Tet - "She Moves She"
26. Dr. Zeus - "Kangna"
27. Dr. Zeus - "Ah Ni Kuria"
28. Telefon Tel Aviv - "My Week Beats Your Year"
29. Mr. Cheeks - "Lights, Camera, Action"
30. Evanescence - "Bring Me to Life (Frozen Remix)"
31. Dust Brothers - "This Is Your Life (Fightclub)"
32. Jay Z - "Dust Your Shoulders Off"
33. Anny - "Purple God (Ralphi Rosario Vocal Mix)
34. Sean Paul - "Dem a Fraud"
35. Queens of the Stone Age - "No One Knows"
36. ABG - "Resident Evil 2 (Ada's Groove OverClocked Remix)
37. Scissor Sisters - "Laura"
38. Sean Paul - "Like Glue"
39. Scissor Sisters - "Get It Get It"
40. Ratatat - "Untitled 1"

I burnout on this stuff like nobody's business and ALWAYS need more music that moves me.


Press Your Luck: The Michael Larsen Incident
Absolutely amazing.
If you're burning these tracks onto CD, here's the perfect way to store them.
Opacodex will make the jump to sidebar if he keeps musicblogging, but you really MUST drop by now and pick up Caetano Veloso's track "Cucurrucucú Paloma" from him. This is a featured track from the spectacular Almodovar film "Talk to Her" and not something it would've occurred to me to hunt down but now that I have it I don't know how I lived without.
Double headed wonders from BLORT:

Good reason to watch British TV: "motherfuckingcuntpussylickytitfuckbitchface?"

These Tony Millionaire produced Maakies cartoons were intended to run on SNL. But didn't. Because SNL sucks. But these cartoons don't.
Phone in Sick day is coming.

In a statement sent to the Arabic language daily al-Hayat, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades (a group claiming to have links with al Qaeda)... said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom."
In comments addressed to Bush, the group said:
"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization."
"Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected."

I'll be checking snopes on this one, but that's a helluva endorsement, eh?