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Album Review

Tuvan band Huun Huur Tu have always functioned perfectly well by themselves, so pairing them with electronic musician Carmen Rizzo was a daring experiment — what could he bring to the party? Quite a lot, it appears. Although never overbearing, he uses instruments, synths, beats (and some strings and brass) to make the group even more shamanic and emotional, as on the utterly breathtaking "Orphaned Child," where the voices seem to be calling from the wilderness into the void. There's perhaps less of the throat singing that first grabbed Western audiences, but it's replaced by a beautiful, mournful lyricism (not completely; those overtones are very much in evidence on the closer, "Tuvan Prayer," with all four voices working together and traditional instruments very much on display, with electronics more of a shadow). Rizzo proves to be the perfect sympathetic foil for Huun Huur Tu, taking what they do and heightening and shading it, as with "Ancestors Call," where the shamanic side of Tuva stands to the fore. But the centerpiece, quite literally, of the album is "Dogee Mountain (Interlude)," an eight-minute piece that verges more on modern classical than anything to do with folk, world, or electronic music. It marks a great departure for Huun Huur Tu, sending the group very firmly into new, wide open spaces and marking Rizzo as the ideal partner in crime.

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Eternal, Carmen Rizzo
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