Mountain Dwellers of the North Caucasus

dagestan-folk

Strummin’ on the Kumuz

Where the Caspian sea meets the Caucasus mountains lives the Republic of Dagestan.  The most ethnically diverse corner of Russia, Dagestan is a place rarely explored by outsiders and only minimally administered by the national government.  As ethnic Russians make up less than 4% of the population, Dagestan is a mix of dozens of different cultures and languages singing and fighting for respect.

The rocky terrain impedes modernization and helps preserve these traditions, but also provides shelter for guerrilla groups, whose drawn-out battles for independence have haunted the region for decades.  Here we explore the many colours of Dagestani music, incorporating Central Asian and Middle Eastern melodies with a view to the north and the west.  May these myriad rhythms help bring the people together, and make it known to the government that diversity should be celebrated.

lezgins

Lezgians have learned to levitate in the thin mountain air

Kashmiri Sounds like Peace

The recent history of the Kashmir region is both complex and tragic, yet the music is truly beautiful.  This hour of music draws on the many cultures in the region, including the Hindustani classical music of the Kashmir Valley and neighboring Jammu, upbeat Pahari beats from Pakistani-controlled Azad Kashmir, and Tibetan Buddhist spiritual pop of Leh, among other amazing sounds.

Young renegade hip hop freedom fighter MC Kash is also featured – hear his story in this short doc:

 

 

Ancient Thunder Dragon Beats

Bhutanese dance groupTashi Delek!  Welcome to the last Shangri-La, the magical moutain kingdom of Bhutan.  Yes, they still have a king – and he is on Facebook.  Wedged in the Himalayas between the two most populous nations on Earth, the land of thunder dragons somehow manages to keep a very low profile and a well-preserved cultural identity.  Miraculously, television wasn’t legalized in Bhutan until 1999, so they were essentially the last country to leave the real world and be hypnotized by the warm electric glow.  Tragic, but inevitable.

Bhutan is so special because it represents the preservation of ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture, now that Tibet has been wiped out by China.  Bhutan was united as a nation in the 17th century by runaway Tibetan lama Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, and has since evolved in isolation.  Perched safely in cliff-side dzongs, the Bhutanese are one of the very few societies to have successfully resisted occupation from outside powers for their entire history.

Taktsang Palphug Monastery, with ample parking for up to 6 thunder dragons

Taktsang Palphug Monastery, with ample parking for up to 6 thunder dragons

Until the last few decades, only traditional (really just another word for ‘local’) music existed in Bhutan.  All traditional music can be divided into Boedra (Tibetan style) or Zhungdra (developed in Bhutan).  This stuff is sacred.  And then there’s rock n roll..

Sure, it’s pretty positive stuff.  So is everything on the young Thimphu-based record label M-Studio. But where will they be in another 20 years?  Death metal thrash dub-step polka?  For now, Bhutan teeters the line between ancient depth and innocent modernity.  May they retain their uniqueness, and dragons; forever.

Hear the soundscape of Bhutan {{HERE}}

Music of the 40 Tribes

We will rock you

Tengir-Too will rock you

Beautiful music is always right around the corner– or hiding in the remote foothills of Central Asia.  This week we travel to Kyrgyzstan and discover a surprisingly rich feast of sounds.  Virtuosic vocals, komuz shredding, jaw harp harmonies, folkloric metal, dark hip hop, bebop, and mucho more! Listen and ye shall agree: Kyrgyz got soul power!

Hear the sounds of Kyrgyzstan HERE

Gettin’ Tajiki Wit It

Ready for this week’s trip to the great unknown?  This will get you MODERATELY PUMPED UP!!:

That’s right, they had keytars in Tajikistan waaay back in the 80s.  (Also, wireless electricity in the desert)  But more importantly, Tajiks share ancestry and musical history with the people of Iran, so we can safely assume that they have been jamming on guitar-fathers (i.e. the tar and dutar) for centuries..

Hear here: Global Mix

Hear here: Tajikistan