With her shaved head and seven-octave range, Sainkho Namtchylak would stand out on any stage. Add her particular mix of Tuvan throat-singing and avant-garde improvisation, and she becomes an unforgettable figure. The daughter of a pair of school teachers, she grew up in an isolated village on the Tuvan/Mongolian border, exposed to the local overtone singing -- something that was generally reserved for the males; in fact, females were actively discouraged from learning it (even now, the best-known practitioners remain male, artists like Huun-Huur-Tu and Yat-Kha). However, she learned much of her traditional repertoire from her grandmother, and went on to study music at the local college, but she was denied professional qualifications. Quietly she studied the overtone singing, as well as the shamanic traditions of the region, before leaving for study further in Moscow (Tuva was, at that time, part of the U.S.S.R.). Her degree completed, she returned to Tuva where she became a member of Sayani, the Tuvan state folk ensemble, before abandoning it to return to Moscow and joining the experimental Tri-O, where her vocal talents and sense of melodic and harmonic adventure could wander freely. That first brought her to the West in 1990, although her first recorded exposure came with the Crammed Discs compilation Out of Tuva. Once Communism had collapsed, she moved to Vienna, making it her base, although she traveled widely, working in any number of shifting groups and recording a number of discs that revolved around free improvisation -- not unlike Yoko Ono -- as well as performing around the globe. It was definitely fringe music, although Namtchylak established herself very firmly as a fixture on that fringe. In 1997 she was the victim of an attack that left her in a coma for several weeks. Initially she thought it was some divine retribution for her creative hubris, and seemed to step back when she recorded 1998's Naked Spirit, which had new age leanings. However, by 2000 she seemed to have overcome that block, releasing Stepmother City, her most accessible work to date, where she seemed to really find her stride, mixing traditional Tuvan instruments and singing with turntables and effects, placing her in a creative firmament between Yoko and Björk, but with the je ne sais quoi of Mongolia as part of the bargain. A showcase at the WOMEX Festival in Berlin brought her to the attention of many, and in 2001 a U.S. tour was planned.
Biography by Chris Nickson - Source: allmusic
Sainkho Namtchylak (Сайнхо Намчылак) is an experimental singer, born in 1957 in a secluded village in the south of Tuva, an autonomous Russian state bordering Mongolia. She has an exceptional voice, spanning seven octaves and proficient in overtone singing; her music enmeshes avant-jazz, electronica, modern composition and Tuvan influences. In Tuva numerous cultural influences collide: the Turkic roots it shares with some Mongolians, the Xinjiang Uighurs, and most people of the Central Asian states; various Siberian nomadic ethnic groups, principally those of the Tungusic group; Russian Old Believers; migrant and resettled populations from the Ukraine, Tatarstan and other minority groups west of the Urals. All of these, to extents, impact on Sainkho's voice, although the
After graduating, Sainkho worked with several ensembles: the Moscow State Orchestra; the Moscow- based jazz ensemble 'Tri-O' (since 1989); School of Dramatic Art under the direction of Anatoly Vasiliev (Moscow), various orchestras in Kyzyl although (incongruously) as far as I am aware she has not worked with the Sayaan Ensemble, the Tuvan 'folkloric orchestra'- a far less sanitised example of folk baroque than, say, existed in pre-independence Kazakhstan- that has housed many of Tuva's other important singers. However, for several years Sainkho annually invited foreign musicians to Tuva to promote Tuvan culture. In 1997, Sainkho was horifically attacked by Tuvinian racketeers which left her in a coma for two weeks. Again, sources regarding this contradict- others maintain that she underwent surgery for a severe malignant brain tumour; regardless, 1997 marked an appreciable change in her life. Since then, she has been resident in exile in Vienna, and has also recorded more prolifically as a solo artist- although she has released over thirty albums in the past twenty years, only seven have been entirely solo. In 2005 Italian publish house Libero di Scrivere released a book of poetry "Karmaland". In 2006 in Petersburg was published a book "Chelo-Vek" (in Russian, "A Human Being") in Russian, Tuvinian and in English.
Old Melodie, Alpha Co, Temple of Majtreja, 13th Muz
Naked Spirit, Tanola Nomads, Tuva Blues, Let the
Midnight Blue, Ohm Suaa, Nostalgia, Creation Song,