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Nina Nastasia

Posted: June 23rd, 2004, by Stuart Fowkes

I must have been one of the hundred or so people in the country not watching England sort-of-convincingly sweep the Croatians aside on Monday, ‘cos I was at the Queen Elizabeth Hall checking out Nina Nastasia, plus ‘rare guests’, whatever they are (robot guitarists? Thurston Moore on French horn?). Well, as it turns out, they were, in addition to the already-impressive backing band, two fellas from Tuva (near Mongolia, geography fans) called Kaigal-ool Khovalyg and Sayan Bapa, wielding a formidable array of Tuvan instruments like the igil (cello thing using horse hair), doshpuluur (a long-necked lute) and, er, their throats. And guess what? It was utterly wonderful.

The effect of what are apparently the khoomei (you’ll have to imagine some accents on this word – I’m not sure if Blogger will let me) and kargyraa singing styles was that of an ersatz string section. Thankfully, there was nothing ‘novelty’ about it – Nastasia’s been using saws, dulcimers and that for ages, and this was just a natural extension and a new way to hear her songs. Even better, none of that gorgeous open space that characterises her recorded stuff was compromised by (ahem) coruscating instrumentation – it’s just that when things picked up, it wasn’t just a case of upping the volume, but gradually building up layers of sound, underpinned by drumming that was fabulous in an understated sorta way. I won’t come over all encomiastic about NN’s songs (suffice to say all three of her records are great), but Monday night really was terrific and if you’ve not heard her before, do yourself a favour and have a listen.

Obligatory further information links for the ‘inter net user’:

Nina Nastasia


Contemporary Music Network

Stuart Fowkes

Stuart is possibly one of the tallest people you have ever seen. He towers above your puny skyscrapers like Rodan on steroids, his blonde spikes puncturing the atmosphe re like crazed, gelled knives. In real life he is part of the Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element pop outfit, and writes for other websites as well as this one - the cheeky blighter. He favours the noisier end of the musical spectrum, with a fervour which would seem to indicate a dodgy heavy metal past.


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