Category: Yat-Kha

Interview: Albert Kuvezin of Yat-Kha

Russian music critic Artemi Troitsky once made the sweeping declaration that only two unique voices exist on Earth—Luciano Pavarotti, and the comparatively obscure Albert Kuvezin. Obscure or not, the latter—a singer from the small Russian republic of Tuva—can back up such praise. He’s a master of khoomei, or throat-singing, a musical style that allows a singer to produce overtones—two, three, or even four notes at once—and specializes in a rare deep-bass variant called kanzat kargyraa. A founding member of the traditional Tuvan group Huun-Huur-Tu, Kuvezin left to pursue his own muse in his band Yat-Kha. He’s hardly shackled by traditionalism, and has spent his career seeking bridges to other styles of music, including the American rock he collected as a teenager. Kuvezin unleashes his wild vocal style on a set of those tunes on’s latest disc, Re-Covers, interpreting songs like Motörhead’s “Orgasmatron” through his guttural bellow. (See Yat-Kha’s website to download mp3s of “Orgasmatron” and the band’s take on Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”) There’s no denying that Tuvan throatsingers like Kuvezin are an acquired taste, but really, could the world’s second unique voice be anything else? The A.V. Club navigated the overloaded Tuvan cell-phone network and an 11-hour time difference to chat with Kuvezin in Tuva.

Originally published Sept. 14, 2006 on Read the complete article.

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