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Music of Central Asia vol. 1, Mountain Music of Kyrgyzstan

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 1:40 am
by Gordon Neill
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Despite having a temper tantrum after buying volume 6 of this series ( http://www.charliegillett.com/phpBB2/vi ... php?t=5501 ) , I persuaded myself to buy another one. Or, more accurately, Con did, as he pointed me in the direction of a couple of tracks.

This is much more to my taste. Where volume 1 features rather long tracks, which are ominously described as ‘classical’, this mountain music is much more down to earth. Most of the tracks hover around the 3-minute mark and are based on pretty straightforward tunes. As I understand it, the tracks are a mix of traditional and more recent compositions, all played by a group called Tengir-Too but featuring a generous selection of guest musicians and singers.

The two standouts remain the tracks that Con highlighted. Both are performed by Zainidin Imanaliev. Their sound is very basic, with Imanaliev hammering away at the komuz (a three-stringed lute) and singing in a voice that swoops from growl to falsetto. Both have a very bluesy feel and are terrific. I’d love to hear more of this guy. But there are plenty of other joys. Along with tracks 3 and 11, I’d also suggest having a listen to 12 and 13 for a quick hit of what to expect. Have a listen on the Smithsonian Folkways website http://www.smithsonianfolkways.org/sear ... x?ID=3115#

There are tracks that I skip. I’ve yet to be bowled over by an instrumental jews-harp song (track 1), for instance, or epic poems lasting 500,000 lines (track 4, but thankfully shortened somewhat). But, overall, this terrific stuff.

Like all the CDs in this series, the package also includes a DVD. Some of this a bit dull, particularly the overview of the series, with fairly basic production values. I kept waiting for a posh voiceover to announce that Basingstoke is a city on the move, or something. But the section featuring some of the artists on this CD is interesting and adds to the enjoyment of the music (it is fascinating, for example, to see the blur of activity as blokes like Zainidin Imanaliev get a mix of rhythm and melody out of three-stringed lute).

Well worth a listen.

****

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 1:59 am
by That Was Jonathan E. Then
4 stars seems generous given the general reservations you mention in the text. I'm of the opinion that any CD with tracks you habitually skip doesn't rate 4 stars, which implies to me something that only just falls short of greatness but with a cohesion and appeal that make a viable whole. Sort of like a fine malt. Perhaps I'm just curmudgeonly. You do say "overall, this terrific stuff."

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:07 am
by Gordon Neill
I suppose I'm just a generous kinda guy. :-) But some people go nuts for jews-harps and 500,000 line epics. No doubt they'd think that I was being mean in just giving it 4 stars. But follow the Smithsonian Folkways link and judge for yourself.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 12:48 pm
by Con Murphy
I'd give it four stars, but that's because I like it all, even the jew's harp tracks and the extract from the epic. Maybe it suffers from trying to be too wide a showcase of the country's music?

But Zainidin Imanaliev is probably the artist most likely to appeal across the board (I wonder what Des would think of him, being a fan of Kong Nay?), and he's really entertaining to watch (the hand-gestures are a key part of the performance), it's just a pity that when I saw them they were only playing in front of about two dozen people!

Another track I'd recommend is Track 7, Kyiylyp Turam (I'm Sad to Say Goodbye) performed by the wonderful Kenjegül Kubatova, who crops up again on Volume 4 of this series, called Bardic Divas:-

http://www.folkways.si.edu/search/Album ... px?ID=3184

Must admit I don't have that one (yet) but it would be great if Zainidin Imanaliev appeared on a male equivalent of this Volume at some point (if he hasn't already?).

King Kong?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 3:14 pm
by Gordon Neill
If there's a suggestion that Kong Nay's music has a similarity to Zainidin Imanaliev's, then I'd be interested in hearing something by him. I started to explore some Cambodian music last year. Can anyone recommend a CD by Kong Nay? Des?

I did a quick Google on Kong. Apparently his protoge has the unlikely name of Ouch Savy. Presumably she wails a lot?

Re: King Kong?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 4:07 pm
by Con Murphy
Gordon Neill wrote:I did a quick Google on Kong. Apparently his protoge has the unlikely name of Ouch Savy. Presumably she wails a lot?


Yes, but she does so in a knowing way :-)

As for the Kong/Imanaliev comparison: it is just a suggestion of a similarity, to be honest, but both produce earthy, 'rooted' Asian folk music that bears some resemblance to what we call blues (however coincidental that might be), so I thought it would be worth mentioning.

Re: Music of Central Asia vol. 1, Mountain Music of Kyrgyzst

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 4:25 pm
by joel
Gordon Neill wrote:Or, more accurately, Con did, as he pointed me in the direction of a couple of tracks.

Now I know what it feels like to be written out of history ;-)
I'll give this album 5.5 stars, as I'm a sucker for a good lamellophone solo.

Air brushed

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 7:20 pm
by Gordon Neill
Joel commented:

Now I know what it feels like to be written out of history ;-)


Oops! Sorry about that Joel. Now that I look back, I can see that it was indeed you that first steered me in the right direction, with Con as your lovely assistant.

The other thing that I meant to say about the two Imanaliev tracks is that I could imagine Led Zeppelin ripping into them. Their both very bluesy and riffy. Just add 10,000 watts of electricity and some large hair.....