• Music of shamans, Siberia

(CCn'C Records, 2001) 

Press review (Folk-tales Portland USA, 2001)

"Trance" is an offshoot of electronic dance music, the kind of stuff you hear at raves. I was a little concerned when I received this disc, dreading a 72-minute soon-to-be coaster of echoed beeps and stunted drum machine farts. Instead, I am stunned. TranceSiberia is one of the most fascinating collisions between tradition and the present I have heard, an aural tapestry of ancient cave paintings digitized.

The Hulu Project is a duo of renegade musicians, Hubl G on drums and sampling/programming, and Luigi Archetti on guitar and effects. With many projects ranging from world to jazz to experimental, this disc comes as a logical next step for the pair. Here they team with Stepanida Borisova, a woman with a background in Yakutian vocal music from extreme north eastern Siberia. Adding to this mix are a brace of musicians from around the globe, running the gamut from didgeridoo and Celtic harp to soprano sax and turntable scratching. It's a complex mix of sounds, with Borisova's wonderful vocals over top, singing songs from a tradition as ancient as time itself.

The music of Yakutia could be best described as legato Amerindian. (Borisova's vocals remind me of some traditional Blackfoot styles, only with notes sustained and vibrato added.) She sings the traditional songs of her people (some translations are provided), covering many of the universal song subjects: love, loneliness, and worry. Although a trained singer, she limits pure technique for emotion, showing an amazing amount of restraint at times (she's also an esteemed actress and concert singer in Russia). She also controls this disc: no matter how fascinating the music underneath her is, she is the focal point. She has two solo a cappella tracks here, the gentle "Keghe" being the most fascinating, with Borisova dropping vibrato (almost a trill) on every note. A beautiful style, and a mesmerizing performance.

The music boarders on the indescribable. The listener is hit from all sides right from the opening "Barastylahyy," which mixes drum machines and electric guitar with Celtic harp. The sonic deluge mixes electronic with World and jazz, with often surprising results. "Serejuem Ajmakhtyy Duuhany" mixes samples and turntable work with beautiful Coltrane-like sax flourishes, rather like a steady train trip across a plain, with the occasional grove of trees, and Borisova singing as the sky to the horizon, tying it all together. Or "Uruu Tulluk Ere Molbystuur," stripped to vocal, sampling, and electric jews harp (!), which is beyond description in its eerie beauty.

Beautifully produced, wonderfully packaged, and with liner notes that detail the aims of the recording, TranceSiberia is an amazing disc. Already climbing the World Music charts in Europe, it's sure to become a classic in the experimental sub-genre. It makes you think, it makes you listen, and at times it is danceable. So much for my preconceptions about what dance music can accomplish: TranceSiberia breaks barriers most musicians wouldn't even consider, let alone ponder. A must have.

(Folk-tales Portland USA, 2001)

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