Review - Yenisei-Punk

Artist: Yat-Kha


Tuvan throat-singing occupies a special place in the hearts of folks who dig music from far-flung lands. Even though one's collection might include instrumentation like sitar or oud or shakuhachi or a listener might be well into Indonesian puppet-theater music or the sounds of Arabic nomads, well-indoctrinated "world music" lovers are still stunned by the sheer uniqueness of the deep, guttural sounds of Tuvan throat singers. It's a primal sound, as resonant as the voice of God and it strikes a special chord with its sheer simplicity. Yet, Tuva -- a tiny area of deep Mongolian influence in isolated south Siberia -- is a land that's finding its cultural history evaporating as its residents move from farming villages to industrial cities. However Albert Kuvezin -- an electric guitarist and throat singer from Tuva -- is doing his part to keep kanzat (his particular brand of throat-singing) vibrant with Yat-Kha, perhaps the only extant Tuvan rock band. Though "Yenisei-Punk" is far from being a punk rock record in the Western sense, the melding of Tuvan instrumentation with electric guitars and a rock & roll attitude means that it's a seriously forward-looking update on some very traditional music. Largely low-key and brooding, this album does little to reflect the live power of the band, but is certainly possessed of a power of its own. Originally released over eight years ago, "Yenisei-Punk" is still perhaps one of the most original-sounding albums ever released. Subjugated to minimal distribution in the States, Harmonia Mundi is finally giving this underground classic the attention it deserves via this reissue (which boasts both fresh remastering and two bonus tracks).