Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Post-WOMAD blues and Ayarkhaan

I have been back from WOMAD (World music festival in Charlton park) for two days now and my head is still full of music from all over the world – and I want to keep it that way and don’t want to go back to work.

I love sitting in a field, drinking beer, listening to exciting music with friends or dancing in a warm sea of people –  dipping in and out of countries, musical influences and moods.

The most striking and moving music at the festival came from Ayarkhaan, an all-woman vocal group from the Sakha Republic. The republic, also called Yakutia, is at the far end of Siberia – slightly smaller than India, but home to less than one million inhabitants. 


Traditional music from this harsh arctic land is heading toward extinction, so Ayarkhaan trio have made their mission to revive the endangered sounds of their homeland.  And those sounds are strange and beautiful! 

Dressed in traditional costumes, the three women stand still, only moving their arms from time to time. Their voices are extraordinary and haunting, sometimes otherworldly. In addition to singing, the women play the khomus, a metal instrument that fits in the mouth like a Jew’s harp, but louder and can operate over three octaves.  The khomus, regarded as the national instrument of Yakutia, is said to have been made by gods and to possess a magical voice. 

Played by Ayarkhaan, the instrument is trance inducing and almost electronic sounding.  With their voices and the khomus, the women conjure up a far away world of galloping horses, icy wind, vast barren steppes, roaming wolves and snowstorms. And you really are there in this wild, ice-crested land. 

Listen to Ayarkhaan here and let me know what you think.

No comments:

Post a Comment