Review and Analysis of Inca Taqui by Nicholas E. Limansky
From Yma Sumac - The Art Behind the Legend
used with permission - all rights reserved, © Nicholas E. Limansky
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This is Yma's "esoteric" Incan album and one of the most odd. It is second only to Legend of the Jivaro, made two years later. Some of the songs are extremely fragmented, making them generally less accessible to North American listeners, and accompaniments are far removed from the lush orchestrations fans had grown accustomed to hearing on the previous two solo albums.
The appearance of Inca Taqui seemed to signal the beginning of a quest by Capitol Records (and the Vivancos) to find the right presentation for Yma on recordings. After Inca Taqui, each album reflected a different concept. Her last two, Legend of the Jivaro and Fuego del Ande, were polite dissasters.
Although Inca Taqui is distinctly odd, Yma and Moises are to be commended on its premise. Some of the tracks accurately reflect Yma's stage practices with roots going back to early, Inca Taki Trio days. Record buyers, however, missed the point. They also missed the lush, full orchestrations they associated with Yma's voice and music and that were so prominent in earlier releases. And yet, for all its starkness this is an intense, fascinating album and one that continues Yma's tradition of providing novel vocal effects over an unusually wide vocal range. Inca Taqui is an important album in the Sumac discography, if only because it contains the unique "Chuncho!" (Forest Creatures). This is the piece that takes the listener through her entire vocal range of just over four octaves and is the only selection that shows the complete scope and imitative capabilities of the Sumac voice. Viewed as such, it is indespensible.
Because of the accompaniments used, Inca Taqui provides strong contrasts with Voice of the Xtabay, with which it is now paired (both LP and CD formats). The differences are many. First, it is superbly recorded with clean, bright sonic properties. It also demonstrates many inovative recording techniques: vocal over-dubbing, use of echo and reverberating devices, and advanced editing. Yma is obviously comfortable with these eight selections and all show her mastery in altering her vibrato, tonal placement and color at will during the course of a song. Unfortunately, the use of back-up singers is also just as evident - they appear in five of the eight songs. Their contributions are just as distracting as before, if not more so, and consist of aimless wailing, grunting, shouting, and hand-clapping agreement.
Additional notes: the 10" LP and the 7" Boxed Set were released together, along with a Gatefold EP and a two disk EP. The Gatefold EP turned out to be the last one for an Yma Sumac recording and the two disk EP must have been in limited production because it is very scarce today. Recorded in Hollywood, California, March 1953 and released in August 1953.
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