Bamboo On The Mountains Kmhmu Highlanders

Bamboo on the Mountains is a real find. This disc is the first widely available documentation of the music from the highlands of Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. Anyone who plays a reed instrument and is looking to push their personal sonic envelope will find track after track of inspiration here. Almost all the instruments here are made from bamboo, from flutes to zithers to tuning forks. The speech-like quality of the bamboo is essential to the verbal content of the songs, as vocal sonorities blend seamlessly with instrumental tones. The singers, who sing mainly of courtship, start with age-old verses, then improvise new ones while throwing in nonsense syllables and words from other languages. In this context, a skilled singer is one who can creatively combine many verses in performance. This technique is highly reminiscent of birdsong, although the bamboo Jew’s harp sounds amazingly Frampton-esque in its vocal mimicry. You won’t hear music like from any other source. (Smithsonian Folkways)