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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Go to the Yat-Kha website  Yat-Kha - /tuva.rock [Pläne Records - 2003]

Rock music from 'the land of eagles'. Tuva, an unlikely place for a rockband: a country in the centre of Asia, surrounded by mountains and temperatures ranging from –50° C in winter to 45° C in summer. The country is spectacularly beautiful with its wild nature, vast forests, the desolate steppe and icy cold rivers flowing into the ‘Ulug Khem’ (main river).

Politically and socially the country is less picturesque: Tuvan agriculture died after the Perestrojka because the farmers all moved to town, almost half of Tuva’s population lives in town today. Tuva is poor, dependent on the Russian rouble and infrastructure. The youngsters in Kyzyl, the capital of Tuva, have no jobs, no pubs and no ideals. Dreary concrete apartment blocks crushed the traditionally hunter-gatherer nation. Along with unemployment comes of course alcoholism and on top of that youngsters are recruited to fight in the horrible Chechnyan war.

Despite all this, which should be enough for anyone to just give up and step out of it, the band Yat-Kha presents its fourth album. The band around throatsinger Albert Kuvezin from Tuva has been enriched with some younger forces and the rock element is louder than ever before. Their previous albums already weren’t as traditional as for instance Huun Huur Tu and included (electric) guitars and drums. The new members managed to listen to Western rock, even though the authorities didn’t approve of this music. Luckily governments are seldomly successful in stopping the smuggling of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin records, although listening to it involves some risk for the young rockers. The fresh influences make Tuva.Rock completely live up to the expectations.

The four men of Yat-Kha represent the 4 ‘S’s: Solidarity, Strength, Severity and Siberian sexuality. The mixture of traditional Tuvan folkmusic and Western rock is exciting and exotic. The unearthly throatsinging, the igil and the morinhuur (both bowed stringinstruments) combined with drums and electric guitars all add up to a unique concoction. The bleak conditions in their homecountry might suggest otherwise, but the music is fairly uplifting and highly enjoyable. Melodically the music is somewhere between Middle-Eastern and Chinese music, as Tuvan heritage is related to the Hunns, the Turks and the Russians. The songmaterial features original compositions as well as traditionals. There are energetic rocksongs like the titletrack and beautiful ballads like Amdy Baryp. Lyrics are in English and Tuvan.

This isn’t your average rockrecord. Although more accessible than Huun Huur Tu for Western ears, if you never heard Tuvan throatsinging it might be a bit of a shock. The energetic East/West hybrid proves to be way more than a gimmick and I recommend to check this album out wholeheartedly.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

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