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“A Sakha Shaman Hears His Ancestors Whilst Travelling” (MP3)

The sound may suggest the human voice, but according to composer Alan Morse Davies, the source material in his “A Sakha Shaman Hears His Ancestors Whilst Travelling” is not speech or song, but instead the Russian mouth harp known as the vargan. Once that fact is known, the deep imposing glottal drone is suddenly familiar — despite which familiarity, Davies makes from that sound a work of extraordinary patience and solemnity (MP3).

[audio:|titles=”A Sakha Shaman Hears His Ancestors Whilst Travelling”|artists=Alan Morse Davies]

He says in his brief descriptive note, “I don’t believe in god but I’d like to make music that sounds like the voice of a god.” What he’s getting at is the the near-inhuman solitude, the sheer blissful intensity of the undertaking.

According to that same note, the track consists of four layers of sampled harp, which have been “stretched, retuned and edited.” The result is like a hologram of a recording of a vargan, a near-static sonic image of it, into which we step. It may shimmer, but it’s a shimmer that seems like it could shred flesh.

Track originally posted at

By Marc Weidenbaum

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