Friday, April 3, 2015

Gimme Some Shuga: Olchey and "Chavadak (Song of the Hero of Socialist Labor)"

The random tune for today may bring back memories of the Cold War and communism. The song is called Chavadak (Song of the Hero of Socialist Labor). However, this is not just some old era Soviet propaganda band. The group that sings the song, Olchey, is an attempt to explore the similarities between the Asian and European ethnic music in Russia. Part of the band comes from the Karelian region, which is in Northwest Russia near Finland and Estonia. The other part of the group comes from Tuva, which is in south central Russia near Mongolia and whose people have ethnic and cultural ties to the Mongolian people. Olchey was conceived by actor and musician George Beletsky as a way to find intercultural communication through traditional wisdom as translated into modern times. The band, originally all Tuvan, achieved this synthesis when two members of the Karelian band Va-ta-ga joined Olchey. Olchey began creating a new sound with the combination of these two traditions. The result was the 2010 CD Shuga, the name of which means the fragile layer of ice at the water's edge in Karelia and "thin" in Tuvan. Chavadak (Song of the Hero of Socialist Labor) can be found as the fourth track on Shuga, and features lots of Tuvan throat singing to a funky yet ethnic beat.