FolkWorld #76 11/2021
© Amelia Zimmatore / ARC Music

Khöömei Beat

Tuva's Awesome Natural Force

Khöömei Beat represents the cresting wave of the awesome natural force that is Tuvan music. Founded in 2017, this group of five talented musicians has succeeded wildly in taking the ancient and powerful music of their ancestors and forging it into an utterly unique, driving, and potent musical experience.

Khöömei Beat

Artist Audio Khöömei Beat "Changys Baglaash", ARC Music, 2021

Khöömei Beat are five outstanding musicians, who excel in khöömei (pronounced ‘her-may’) – Tuva’s unique style of throat singing. Together, they take the ancient music of their ancestors and revamp it into a uniquely powerful modern-day musical experience. Not so long ago, Tuva, and its music, were barely recognized due to its small minority being tucked away in the hinterlands of the vast Soviet Union. Undeterred, the Tuvans nurtured their particular style of khöömei throat singing, which has now survived centuries withstanding oppression and restriction from the outside. However, it was still surprisingly little known outside its borders, pre 1990s. It was not until the collapse of the Soviet Union that Tuva’s rare naturalistic sound exploded onto the global music scene; its force and scale entirely disproportionate to its origins.

After the early ‘90s, Tuvan groups began touring the globe. In doing so, they brought throat singing to both the world of music and popular culture. Thus, establishing a blueprint for groups such as Huun- Huur-Tu and Yat-Kha to perform original Tuvan music to a worldwide audience. Since then, Tuva’s music has been recognized globally as a unique and powerful form of music that has undergone a remarkable evolution over the last 30 years. These groups trace their lineage back to their Tuvan ancestors, who purposely imitated naturistic sounds while out herding or hunting. They believed chanting and overtone singing was a way to communicate and live harmoniously with the universe; embracing and echoing the sound of the mountains, waterfalls, forests, and the animals that lived among them.

Artist Video "Terra Incognita Tuva: A journey among Nomads, Shamans and Musicians", JARO, 2020

⋙ Tom's Nightshift, FW#73

Founded in 2017, the members of Khöömei Beat each represent different aspects of Tuva’s modern-day musical landscape. Ranging from the traditional singing and byzaanchy playing of Kan-Khüler Saaya (from the remotest mountains of Tuva) to the razor-sharp and precise drumming of Bailak Mongush (Tuva’s reigning ‘First Lady of the Drums’). The rough-edged, yet charming, Shoraan Ochur contributes bass, while Aidyn Sedii adds cello sounds that rush through the soul like the wind from an eagle’s wing. Aikhan Oorzhak drives the band with earthy performances on the traditional doshpuluur and igil, while singing with a range that rumbles from the roots of the mountains to their snow-capped, sky-scraping peaks.

The musicians of Khöömei Beat are all authentic inheritors of the culture who have together helped further the evolution of Tuvan music. They layer traditional and modern instruments with their distinctive vocals to create powerful arrangements with modern rhythms and electronic sounds. With performances that are electrifying, heart-rending, foot-stomping and utterly unforgettable, they present a musical art that stretches back to the dawn of humanity and yet simultaneously reaches forward to new horizons.

'Changys Baglaash' (pronounced: Chung-gus b-glash) – the latest rip-roaring release from Tuvan sensations Khöömei Beat goes on sale worldwide from Friday 22nd October 2021 through Arc Music. A blistering blend of old and new that firmly establishes them as a musical force of nature and one of the most exciting new bands in world music today.

You can expect booming bass and soaring strings. Power, pace, and an irrepressible pulse that beats through the very heart of their music. Music that indulges historical values and imbues their youth with a gateway to their people's very beginnings. For Khöömei Beat, two things are of vital importance. To respect the traditions of their cultural history and draw in the younger generations of Tuvan people and help them learn about their rich and vibrant heritage.

Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Khöömei Beat "Changys Baglaash", (3) "Terra Incognita Tuva: A journey among Nomads, Shamans and Musicians" (unknown/website).

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