Throat Singing And Rock, By Way Of Tuva In the Central Asian country of Tuva, Albert Kuvezin leads the band Yat-Kha, who mix traditional Tuvan throat singing with the spirit of rock. Recuperating from an illness, Kuvezin went through the music he loved and found the inspiration for the CD Re-Covers, an album of cover songs that have a distinctly Tuvan twist.
NPR logo

Throat Singing And Rock, By Way Of Tuva

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Throat Singing And Rock, By Way Of Tuva


Music Reviews


Albert Kuvezin and his band Yat-Kha rev up traditional Tuvan throat singing by mixing it with rock and roll. On their latest album, Re-Covers, the band takes the approach literally, performing some rock classics in Tuvan style.

Chris Nickson has a review.

(Soundbite of song, “In-A-Godda-Da-Vida”)

Mr. ALBERT KUVEZIN (Yat-Kha): (Tuvan singing) In-a-godda-da-vida, honey, don't you know that I love you?

CHRIS NICKSON: Albert Kuvezin is the gloriously mad sense of rock and roll. There's glee in the way he refracts songs. What enters as familiar classic rock emerges as something disoriented, starling, thought provoking and sometimes hilarious. Occasionally it can be eerily disturbing, like a shamanic take on Santana's version of Black Magic Woman that can raise scalp hair.

(Soundbite of music, “Black Magic Woman”)

Mr. KUVEZIN: (Tuvan singing) Black magic woman, I got a black magic woman, I got a black magic woman, got me so blind I can't see. I got a black magic woman. She trying to make (unintelligible) out of me. Don't turn your back on me baby, don't turn your back on me baby.

NICKSON: The arrangements are eccentric, but it's Kuvezin's voice that's the true power of this disc. Overtone, or throat singing, is a traditional central Asian art that's found its full flowering in Tuva. The singer forces air through this throat producing notes that sometimes seem more than human.

In Kuvezin's case the deep base tones, called cagira, groaning and haunted, whose effect can be fully heard on this version Joy Division's ode to bleakness, Love Will Tear Us Apart.

(Soundbite of music, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”)

Mr. KUVEZIN: (Tuvan singing) Why is the bedroom so cold, turned away on your side? Is my timing that flawed, our respect run so dry? Yet there's still this appeal that we've kept through our lives. Love, love will tear us apart.

NICKSON: Kuvezin's tastes are certainly eclectic. As a young man in Tuva, he consumed Western music from the Rolling Stones to Led Zeppelin and Captain Beefheart. Here he's as happy romping through material by Hank Williams as he is with Motorhead, Bob Marley or even tweaking the easy listening of Paul Moriarty.

Kuvezin's draw through the past is as loving as it is original. You may recognize a lot of the pieces on the Re-Covers, but one thing's for certain, you've never heard them performed like this. And Albert Kuvezin and Yat-Kha make sure you'll never think of them the same way again.

NORRIS: The new album from Albert Kuvezin and Yat-Kha is called Re-Covers. Our reviewer is Chris Nickson.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.