The Alash Ensemble is a trio of master throat singers from Tuva, a tiny republic in the heart of Central Asia. They have perfected a remarkable technique for singing multiple pitches at the same time–sustaining low bagpipe notes while humming uncanny, whistle-like melodies peppered by thrumming rhythms. Grounded in their native tradition, the music of their grandparents, great-grandparents, and the great musicians of Tuva and Central Asia, they are also influenced by such western artists as Sun Ra and Jimi Hendrix. In recent years, they have collaborated with diverse musicians including The Sun Ra Arkestra, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Shodekeh, and Béla Fleck and The Flecktones, to whose Grammy Award-winning holiday album, Jingle All the Way, they contributed. The ensemble is named for the Alash River, which runs through the northwestern region of Tuva.
Hazmat Modine, founded in New York City in the late 1990s, blends elements of early American blues, jug band music, swing, klezmer, New Orleans R&B, Jamaican Rocksteady, avant-garde jazz, rockabilly, and Middle-Eastern, African, and Hawaiian musical styles. Their many albums include Bahamut, whose title track recently featured in Wim Wenders’ 3D-film Pina, and Cicada, which won the Charles Cross Award in France for Best Blues Album and topped World Music Charts Europe. They have toured in 40 countries worldwide, featured on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s The Daily Planet, and collaborated and performed with a vast range of artists including Bombino, Kronos Quartet, Cat Empire, The Gangbe Brass Band from Benin, and Natalie Merchant. Pitchfork’s Joe Tangari gave the band’s track “Everybody Loves You” a four-star review and praised it as “generalized roots music that takes from pretty much any roots it sees fit” and “true world music, weird and wonderful to the last note.”