by Gerry Mak in New Events on Monday 29 December 2008

I got a chance to see yet another fantastic Tuvan folk group, Alash, the other night at Barbès in New York’s Park Slope. The tiny performance area was jammed to the point where we had to wait until people left to go to the bathroom to squeeze ourselves in (the show was mentioned on NPR earlier in the day), but it was worth braving the sweltering room and precariously full beer glasses. I appreciated the fact that the band was truly acoustic, not even using microphones, so I could really hear what was going on without the distortion of amplification. The overtones of the throatsinging were quiet, but audible, and one of the igil (horse-head fiddle) players’ kargyraa (deep bass drone produced in the vestibular folds of the singer’s vocal chords) was so incredibly low, people in the room gasped in amazement.