SONG OF THE DAY Alash Ensemble – Bashtak (I’m a Joker) (Concerts from Blue Rock LIVE)

2019_alash-tuva-1…and now for something completely different!! This song has put a smile on my face today and that is the best thing ever! This wonderfully curious sound found me completely by accident, but what a happy accident this has been!!

ALASH ensemble are a trio of master throat singers (xöömeizhi) from Tuva, a tiny republic in the heart of Central Asia. The ensemble are named after the Alash River which runs through the north western region of Tuva – the Alash River has also inspired a couple of Tuvan songs which carry its name.

The ancient art of throat singing (xöömei) developed among the nomadic herdsmen of this region and Alash remains grounded in this tradition, while expanding its musical vocabulary with new ideas from the West. They have managed to merge the old with the new and I marvel at how these two worlds have been so wonderfully fused! There is no easy way to describe these otherworldly sounds and to do this art justice, you just have to listen, absorb and experience this all for yourself!

The group have all been trained in traditional Tuvan music since childhood, first learning from their families, and later becoming students of master throat singers. In 1999, as students at Kyzyl Arts College, they formed a group called Changy-Xaya. They practiced in the damp college basement on Kochetovo Street, and soon became the resident traditional ensemble on campus. At the same time they learned about western music, practiced on hybrid Tuvan-European instruments, and listened to new trends coming out of America.  They introduced the guitar and sometimes even the Russian bayan (accordion) into their arrangements, alongside their traditional Tuvan instruments. They experimented with new harmonies and song structures. This intriguing mixture of old and new is inspired by the music of their grandparents, great-grandparents, musicians of Tuva and Central Asia, as well as western artists such as Sun Ra and Jimi Hendrix!!  They have always preserved tradition, whilst looking forward into modern sounds, and instead of one dominating the other, these two worlds have been laid down side-by-side, complementing one another! It’s wonderful!!

I first saw Bashtak (I’m A Joker) performed live on a Blue Rock Concert and knew I was going to love it from the start! This is hypnotic, joyful and made me smile, not just because the melody happens to be warm and welcoming, but because the vocals are like nothing heard on an average day (most probably) and their otherworldly draw is hypnotic and intriguing. This is a journey into sound and the fusion of east/west, old/new, both transports and delivers. What better way to see in a New Year? I hope you like it as much as me….HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Check it out above and watch the group perform today’s track live, below.

About The Listening Post Blog

The Listening Post Blog - A place to discover new sounds, where the music speaks for itself..
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