released in 2011
New Tuvan Directions
by TJ Nelson
27 August 2011
Okay, I just admit a little quirk of mine right here – I can’t help myself when it comes to throat singing. I’m simply fascinated. So you can imagine my surprise and delight as I was flipping through my stack of reviews CDs and found Burra by the Alash Ensemble. With previous recordings the self-titled Alash, an appearance on ‘Jingle All the Way’ with Bela Fleck and Alash Live at the Enchanted Garden, Buura steeps the listener into Alash Ensemble’s brand of Tuvan music. These musicians aren’t simply content with the past but instead take the Tuvan music tradition to new directions with the additions of guitar and udu. The ensemble looks to blend other musical influences into their work and “like a healthy tree which deepens its roots in the earth while reaching for the sun.”
Alash Ensemble is made up by vocalist, byzaanchy, chadagan, igil and xomus player Nachyn Choodu; vocalist, igil, doshpuluur player and guitarist Bady-Dorzhu Ondar; vocalist, doshpuluur, igil player and guitarist Ayan-ool Sam; and vocalist, kengirge, shynggyrash, shoor, murgu and xomus player Ayan Shirizhik.
Whether it’s the infectiously charming opening track “Yrlaazhyyly or Let’s Sing” or the thrumming romp of “My Throat, the Ediski” or the brightly rhythms worked on “Ondar Girls,” Buura is a treasure trove of the charm and grace of Tuvan folk music. And the throat singing is fabulous!
“Xomustar,” featuring the Tuvan jaw harp, is infectious fun, but its “Xongnum Bile Salyp Berein” that really shines with an igil solo and vocals by Bady-Dorzhu Ondar. And who could resist a love-inspired track called “Tractor Drivin’ Woman” with the lyrics “When I first saw you plowin’ a filed on your tractor, Your clothes ewer oily and smelled like gas, But your face was shining like the sun.” It is indeed a sweet love song. Other Alash Ensemble gems include the exotic “Kosh-oi and Torgalyg,” “Sygyt in the Style of Maxim Dakpai” with such stunning throat singing by Ayan-ool Sam that it actually raised the hair on the back of my neck and the almost bluesy “The Reindeer Herder’s Song.”
Buura is a bold, beautiful and an inspired listen into Tuva.
the washington post pop music blog
What You Should Be Listening to . . .
by Chris Richards
27 July 2011
On its second studio album, this Tuvan throat-singing group claims to have picked up a few outside influences since it left the pastures of Central Asia for a life of touring across the planet. But these songs tap into a universal sadness so compelling, you'll hardly notice. It's a different kind of high-lonesome sound—music that feels as if it traveled miles and ages to pulverize your heart.
(original no longer online)
by David Luhrssen
6 July 2011
The throat singers and musicians of Alash sometimes call themselves a Milwaukee band, even though they come from Tuva and log thousands of miles a year on the road. Their manager lives in Milwaukee and they spend at least a week each year in the Cream City (and look forward to seeing the Brewers). The global crisscross is subtly audible on their second studio album, where the Far East cadences and cavernous vocals are augmented by African drum, guitar and a guest spot by Flecktones bassist Victor Wooten, lending texture without disturbing the traditional essence of this ancient music. Some of the rhythms almost get funky, as if the deep blues of the Mississippi Delta flowed into the mountains of Central Asia.
(original no longer online)