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Naked Spirit

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Album Review

While Sainkho is a vocalist from Tuva, she does not sing solely in the distinctive throat singing that has popularized the name of that postage stamp nation, although there are sufficient examples here. Sainkho incorporates the bovine canter rhythms, as in "Badjirgal's Wish," breathy vocalizations, and Oriental, upper-register expression. Through accompanying her own samples and multi-tracking, production of Naked Spirit allows Sainkho to create an entire universe of sound with her voice. The tracks are often repeated variations on a single verse of three lines. While these stanzas bear haiku-like poetry, it is the rich arrangement and intricate harmonies that add beautiful mystery to these chant-like pieces. As such, Sainkho is the avant-garde, experimental face of the contemporary Tuvan folk scene. Her wondrously adept and entrancing vocalese places Sainkho in the regency of shrinking world vocal jazz. Clearly inspired by the whole of nature and a life outdoors (there is even a song about the Inuit), Sainkho conjures into her pieces many sonic allusions. In "Valley of Shadows," tablas recreate rainfall and she utters a flock of birds. Sainkho's unforgettable improvisations — summoning for the mind an arena of the boundless steppes — are here accompanied by mouth harps, varied ethnic percussion, and more, including master of the apricot-wood flute known as the dudu, Djivan Gasparyan, on the title track. Liner notes are in English and Italian.


Genre: World

Years Active: '00s

With her shaved head and seven-octave range, Sainkho Namtchylak would stand out on any stage. Add her particular mix of Tuvan throat-singing and avant-garde improvisation, and she becomes an unforgettable figure. The daughter of a pair of schoolteachers, she grew up in an isolated village on the Tuvan/Mongolian border, exposed to the local overtone singing -- something that was generally reserved for the males; in fact, females were actively discouraged from learning it (even now, the best-known...
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Naked Spirit, Sainkho Namtchylak
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