Various: Music of Central Asia Vol 4, Bardic Divas (Smithsonian/Elite)

 |   |  1 min read

Aigul Ulkenbaeva: Aqsholpan (Lovely Sholpan)
Various: Music of Central Asia Vol 4, Bardic Divas (Smithsonian/Elite)

This beautifully packaged collection -- informative booklet, DVD with doco footage and interactive instrument section -- is not only a handsome set, but contains the remarkable voices of women singers from Central Asia, the region between Iran and the Steppes.

Politics and ethnic separations over the past half century have lead to a diaspora of cultural voices (for example Jews from Uzbekistan and Tajikstan settled in New York and Israel in the mid 70s) but the evidence here in 18 striking tracks from the region is that the stories and sounds of these peoples -- here represented by women singers from various regions -- are both as wide in geography as they are deep in tradition.

The liner notes cover the essential ground -- three distinct kinds of bardic experession, some contemporary lyrics alongside the mostly traditional -- and the artists are also briefly profiled.

What is as stunning as the astonishingly powerful (and empowered voices) is the instrumentation of various lutes which are compellingly percussive as much as melodic.

Underwritten by the Aga Khan Music Initiative founded to keep these many traditions and songs alive (there is a section in the DVD about its work), this will give the lie to the post-Borat belief that this is a poor region. In money maybe, but culturally it is exceptionally rich.

And much of the information has been carried by women. Very powerful women too.

You may never hear -- or yes, need to hear -- another collection of music from Central Asia but this informative set -- with a beautifully shot DVD so crisp and colourful it should be on television -- really does deserves your attention.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

FEMI KUTI INTERVIEWED AT WOMAD (2014): A voice in the wilderness

FEMI KUTI INTERVIEWED AT WOMAD (2014): A voice in the wilderness

Elsewhere has already published an in-depth interview with Femi Kuti but we also caught up with him at a press conference at the recent Womad where he performed. Politics was,... > Read more

Hossam Ramzy: Sabla Tolo IV (ARC Music)

Hossam Ramzy: Sabla Tolo IV (ARC Music)

Percussionist, arranger and producer Hossam Ramzy has appeared frequently at Elsewhere, and been interviewed. From Egypt, he is one of the few Arabic musicians whose name might be... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . THE PIPKINS: From the people who brought you . . .

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . THE PIPKINS: From the people who brought you . . .

You are allowed to smirk in contemptuous admiration at British popular taste, it knows no depths to its shamelessness. This is the nation which gave us Carry On films, cringe-inducing... > Read more

The Kinks, Something Else (1967)

The Kinks, Something Else (1967)

Anyone looking for that low door in the wall which allows entry into the distinctive garden of English pop-rock is, almost invariably drawn to the Kinks whose songwriter Ray Davies had a mainline... > Read more