Umeko Ando (1932-2004) was a folk singer from Japan. She was a representative of the Ainu culture on the Hokkaido Island in the north of Japan. Ihunke is her first album which was recorded with the Ainu musician and dub producer Oki Kano in 2000. The 16 Ainu songs on Ihunke are delicate, natural gems. They are built on Oki Kano's tonkori patterns (a five-string harp), over which Umeko Ando develops her repetitive, mantric vocals, often in a call-and-response manner. Oki Kano is one of very few professional tonkori players who performs worldwide with his Oki Dub Ainu Band. The songs possess a mystical energy -- when crows call accurately with Ando's brittle 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. Only recently (in 2008) have the Ainu officially been acknowledged as indigenous people who are culturally independent from Japan. This record is an example of how their music has been passed on through generations in the underground Ainu communities while it was oppressed by the Japanese hegemony. It deserves a huge audience.