Kutman Sultanbekov and Kambar Kalendarov, master musicians of Kyrgyzstan, present JAW, their debut recording of new and freshly arranged traditional music for the Kyrgyz jaw harp. Kutman and Kambar were hit stars of the 2008 Bang on a Can Summer Festival at MASS MoCA and returned to the US in the summer of 2009 for an appearance (and subsequent radio broadcast) at the Bang on a Can Marathon in New York. As composers as well as virtuosos of Kyrgyz music, this album focuses on bringing the jaw harp into the 21st century in a recording that combines the trance-like sound of the instrument with a surprisingly contemporary aesthetic. This is not your granddad's jaw harp music.
Featured tracks on JAW include Mezgil Jangyrygy, with a driving groove supporting a screaming overtone melody. Many tracks feature the infectious, monstrous bass jaw harps (essentially dubstep with your tongue), including Kukuk, Boz Uido andKosh Kairyk, an all-out battle of these dueling giants. Jangylyk will bring to mind Celtic fiddling and Tengir Too is a trippy journey into Silk Road psychedelia.
The jaw harp is a tantalizingly elemental instrument - made of wood or of metal, it makes its sound by vibrating a tiny bar of metal, the sound resonating within the player's mouth. It is in the mouth of the player that the jaw harp becomes powerful and sophisticated; performers amplify the instrument's overtones by changing the shape, and therefore the resonance, of their mouths.