1. Red Sky
6. Flower Moon
Cathartes, the latest album by internationally acclaimed throat singer and ritual artist Soriah, is an evocative, exhilarating listening experience that invites its audience on a sonic journey to the distant steppes of Siberia (and beyond, into the celestial realm). At the same time, his music is firmly rooted in relevant and timely topics facing humanity as we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and socio-political unrest.
Conceived and written by Soriah, who also did all the vocals and played most of the instruments, Cathartes also features notable guest musicians Mark Slutsky, drummer on “Axca” and ЖЖЖ” (pronounced “zhê zhê zhê). The latter track also features Arrington de Dionyso (Moroccan flute) and LaLove (Suling flute).
Soriah – who grew up in California, but who has long divided his time between Portland, Oregon and Kyzyl, the capital of Tuva (which is part of Siberia) – has become renowned around the world for his unique blend of traditional Tuvan throat singing and modern experimental elements, resulting in a sound that is at once otherworldly and grounding. His thematic narrative on Cathartes is “the journey from life and its sacredness, passing through the terror of the death experience, which relinquishes to a transcendent existence beyond. No angels or devils or gods, just energetic flow, just being,” he says.
At the same time, Cathartes offers a reflection on very tangible and topical modern-day issues that have had a direct impact on Soriah’s life, especially as he has been living through the unrest in Portland. These are issues that are relatable to anyone living through these current uncertain times, however. “Red Sky” is about climate change and forest management, while “Axca” is a call to action against racism and police brutality. The title track, “Cathartes,” is meant as a light to shine for those who have passed because of COVID.
Cathartes is also reference to “cathartes aura,” the scientific genus for the turkey vultures “that would soar high above the suburban California town I grew up in,” Soriah says, “and it also not-so-subtly refers to the cathartic process of making this album.”
Soriah’s vocals—or, rather, his seemingly supernatural ability to coax an astonishing array of sounds out of his mouth and vocal chords, from the harsh to the sublime—is a remarkable presence throughout Cathartes, serving as a reminder of the extraordinary skills that made him a celebrated Tuvan throat singer – even within Tuva itself (the first foreigner to do so, and the only one to repeatedly win the most prestigious throat singing competitions there).
His astonishing range is especially clear on “Gnosis,” the only track that was recorded pre-pandemic. It is made up entirely of vocal and mouth sounds – no instruments. “It was meant to convey an Ayahuasca experience that I had in Peru a few months before recording this track,” Soriah says, and the evocative effects he creates are nothing short of mind-bending.
Surprisingly, these expansive, exploratory tracks were mostly recorded in Soriah’s living room in Portland with very limited equipment. (Only “Gnosis” was fully recorded at a studio, Champion Nation Studios in California). The album was mixed by Jeff Thall, who has done work for Roxy Music, as well as numerous TV and film soundtracks.
At once timeless, transcendent, and contemporary, Soriah encompasses these seemingly disparate elements with ease. His music is a powerful reminder of humanity’s origins, a reflection on our current conflicts – and a hopefulness for our collective future that we can choose to fill with spirituality, equality, and beauty.
The Tuvan throat singing phenomenon that is SoRIAH will take you to that holy
place whenever you lend an ear to his music.”
-David J (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets)
“Takes you to other dimensions.”
-Ronny Moorings (Clan of Xymox)
“A really powerful and emotional album”
-cEvin Key (Skinny Puppy, Download)