Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Huun-Huur-Tu: 60 Horses in My Herd--Old Songs and Tunes of Tuva [Shanachie, 1993]
They tour too much too convince me they're cowboys at heart. They're entertainers--cowboys set on quitting their day jobs. And good at it, too. Where Smithsonian's classic CDs of central Asian throat singing are forbiddingly culture-specific, these will grab world-music dabblers if not alternative stick-in-the-muds. The hook is the technique, in which a single vocalist produces two or three harmonics in perfect unison. But that's just the exotic new sound--it's the mood of the music that makes it more than a dog-and-pony show. Songs and tunes are so allegro they sound thoughtfully devotional even when they aren't, which is usually; the traditional fiddle and percussion accompaniment admits a guitar now and then. We all know about weirdness that fetishizes its own alienation, and most of us need it. Some of us are also cheered and awed by weirdness at home with itself. A-