Umeko Ando - Ihunke 2LP
Umeko Ando (1932-2004) was an Ainu singer and mukkuri player, as well as a representative of the Ainu culture on the Hokkaido Island in the north of Japan.
“Ihunke” was her first album, recorded with the Ainu musician and dub producer Oki Kano in 2000. The 16 Ainu songs on “Ihunke” are delicate, natural gems - built on Oki Kano’s Tonkori patterns (a 5-string harp), over which Umeko Ando develops her repetitive, mantric vocals, often in a call-response manner. The songs on “Ihunke” possess a mystical energy – when crows call alongside Ando’s voice in the first song, it seems like natural powers join in with her music. Her voice sounds like animals of the sky and the forest.
Oki Kano: “It was a lot of fun to record with Umeko Ando. Many Ainu hesitate to break with tradition – if Umeko hadn’t been so flexible to work with the younger generation and recording technology, this album would never have happened. Our sessions were intense, and we were proud and happy about making such beautiful music.”