Thursday, August 20, 2009

TUVAN Shamans, Punks and Throatsingers ::: YAT KHA-Mankurt & Genghis Blues

I've been working on a video collabo project with fellow artist, motiondesigner/animator Vanguardbots, and we were looking for some soundtrack for our first project that would reflect some of the symbolic references of Central Asia (Check out Vanguardbots' vimeo site for some of his projects here). I remembered this Tuvan throatsinging punk band I used to listen to years ago, called Yat Kha. So I youtubed it and found this amazing animation made for their joint I've never heard before. It is based on the Turkic legend of Mankurt, a story def worth looking up. It's a symbolic tale about actual and mental slavery through the story of Mankurt whose memory is erased and turned into a zombie...as you see the character here finds himself in the city later self-destructing. It's also a metaphor about what happens if you forget your love, roots, ancestors, your mother Earth, and get enslaved by your own forgetfulness...
Yast Kha's birthplace, Tuva has gotten recent attention through it's music. The Soviets cut off Tuva from the outside world for over 50 years, it is one of the most hidden and mysterious places of the southern regions of Siberia in Central Asia. Tuva maintained to a large degree its nomadic heritage and shamanistic culture, though Tuvan shaman were persecuted under Stalin. Their religion is similar to many Northern American Native tribes and their musical culture is tied in with their shamanistic healing tradition. Yat Kha is born out of the marriage of native Tuvan music and Anglo-American punk rock.
YAT KHA :: Mankurt

It just happened that I wanted to post another Tuva related post with American musician, blind blues-singer Paul Pena visiting Tuva to learn throatsinging after hearing it on Radio Moscow while back in San Francisco. He went to Tuva and entered the contest! GENGHIS BLUES, the documentary following Paul Pena's journey to Tuva is one of my favorite films. I highly recommend it. I love this scene, Paul's throatsinging skills are astonishing.

From the presskit ""Blind American blues singer Paul Pena discovered the art of throatsinging while listening to Radio Moscow on shortwave more than fifteen years ago. Emanating from the autonomous republic of Tuva, located between Mongolia and Siberia, multi-harmonic "khoomei" (throatsinging) remained almost unknown in the west until the 1990's. Genghis Blues charts Pena's incorporation of throatsinging into his own music and his entry in Tuva's singing contest in 1995.."

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