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LIANE HANSEN, host:

It's been said that voice is the original instrument. The word's ring particularly true when we hear songs from around the world in languages we don't understand. Our Music Director Ned Wharton reviews two new discs from far-flung places that highlight the instrumental power of the human voice.

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NED WHARTON reporting:

Sui Vesan grew up in Czechoslovakia, but even locals might have a hard time parsing her lyrics. She developed a style called Datajazz and sings in an invented language she named Tatlaynia(ph), as well as Slovakian. On her CD, Merging with the Brook, her husband, percussionist and guitarist Rado Spicka, accompanies Vesan, whose voice reaches to the stratosphere in the title cut.

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WHARTON: Another world music artist approaches music using more conventional harmonies, but his results are equally striking. From Italy, this is singer Gianmaria Testa.

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WHARTON: Testa's CD, Extra-Muros, begins with this cut, in which his versatile voice recreates a languid trombone sound. Then, the beauty and the musicality of the Italian language is conveyed through his velvety singing.

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WHARTON: Gianmaria Testa comes from a farming family in the hills of Northern Italy. Despite his extraordinary musical talent, Testa keeps a day job as a stationmaster for the Italian rail system. Testa's CD, Extra-Muros, actually dates from 1996 and was originally released on a French label, Tôt ou Tard, which means early or late and for us Americans once deprived on Gianmaria Testa's music, Harmonia Mundi is now releasing his work, and it's better late than never.

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HANSEN: Ned Wharton's Director's Cuts, including full music selections from Gianmaria Testa and Sui Vesan can be found on our website, npr.org.

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