YMA Sumac
Recital

[ESP Disk, www.espdisk.com]

Peruvian space chanteuse YMA Sumac gave a rare performance in Bucharest, Romania back in 1961.  To our advantage, ESP has given us the benefit of releasing this gem for the first time on CD.  For those who don't know, YMA Sumac is an extraordinary woman with a five octave voice.  Though she apparently lives in Brooklyn, she is actually from Peru.  Nowadays, she rarely performs, but when she throws a concert, it's supposed to be a real blast.  Her performances feature Sumac dressed in extravagant dresses, which oftentimes looked like they were fashioned by Martians.  She claims she has never been seriously ill, which is somewhat of a feat, considering her vocal prowess requires a lot of full-body energy that was essential to tour on a regular basis.  How does one go about in describing Sumac's vocal wonder? She's like a cross-breed of Diamanda Galas [whom I'm sure Galas has named as a source of inspiration], throat singers from Tuva and a tough sounding opera singer.  Her versatility shines through in just about every number she appears on [some of these are instrumentals].  On the epic "Ataypura", she starts off sounding like a man, but then moves into high-pitched territory, where she's wobbling and squelching like a little bird.  The string section of the orchestra tries to soothe her voice, but this really has the opposite effect.  On "Supay Taki", Sumac sounds like she's yodeling a tune, though her yodels are more operatic and far more powerful in nature than the pictures you have in your head from "The Sound of Music".
Musically, the album verges on the brink of opera, with flamenco, world music and mostly space music thrown in for good measure.  To describe Sumac as an oddity is really a disservice to the world of serious music.  She's a world treasure and should be protected by a special statute.  If you've not heard her vocal magic before, this record is bound to be a gold mine.

- Tom Sekowski


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+ CHARLIE ALEX MARCH - After the Clouds Clear
>> YMA Sumac - Recital
+ MIKE SAMMES & THE MIKE SAMMES SINGERS - Music for Biscuits
+ WILLIAM BASINSKI - Variations for Piano & Tape
+ AXEL DORNER / JIM DENLEY - Distinctions / JOEL STERN / JIM DENLEY - Tape and Paint Game / PETER BLAMEY / JIM DENLEY - Findings
+ SHIT AND SHINE - Jealous of Shit and Shine
+ BRIAN OSBORNE & MICHAEL THOMAS JACKSON - On The Road Again 2004 / DOSDEDOS - Dosdedos
+ JOE McPHEE & SURVIVAL UNIT II WITH CLIFFORD THORNTON - N.Y. N.Y. 1971 / ANTHONY BRAXTON - Quintet (Basel) 1977 / CECIL TAYLOR UNIT - It Is In The Brewing Luminous / ELLERY ESKELIN - Vanishing Point
+ STANDARD - 3,000 V 40,000 W
+ ALEXANDER VON SCHLIPPENBACH - Twelve Tone Tales, Vol. 1 & 2

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