This release is a strange little beast indeed: the disc can only be played on a computer (PC or Mac) and has built-in software that reconfigures the music with each re-playing. That is, out of a large number of sound files the program chooses a unique path each time the play button is clicked. I have played this disc a good dozen times now, on both my PC and my aging laptop Mac and each time I have heard new sounds that weren't included in the previous play-through.
So what does it sound like? Lots of simple drumming, sometimes solo, sometimes in groups and at times extremely poly-metric, droney horns, mouth-harps and overtone singing, cello and reeds and odd percussive sounds, field recordings of Mongolian herdsmen and their families, and some sounds that I cannot place at all. And all reconfigured in a new way with each listening. I have to wonder what John Cage would have thought of this technology...
Along with this minor technological miracle come videos, photographs and voluminous (the file says "never ending") liner notes, bios of the principle players, and articles about various aspects of the recording process and it's attendant concerns, one of which is about cross-cultural sound making — a lot of information that I am still trying to get all the way through. The videos look a little blurry but are fun to watch, with one showing the core members Ken Hyder, Tim Hodgkinson and Gendos Chamzyryn playing as a trio and sounding not unlike a subdued Dead C. Another shows a line of hand drummers, some dressed in shaman's regalia, inside a large tent or yurt bashing out a poly-metric sound field with Hyder in the center.
The disc itself is simple to navigate and I had no problems with it on either of my machines, outside of a few sound drop-outs when it was playing on my PC. A marvel even if the music isn't your cup of yak tea, both for the use of available technology, and for the joining of players from different disciplines and cultures.
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