Mongolian Folk Music (Hanggai)

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General Information

Artist: HangGai
Title: Mongolian Folk Music
Release Date: 2007, March
Type: CDDA
Catalog No.:
Language: Mongolian

Track Listing


  • that's Beijing Blog, Berwin Song, June 25, 2007

It’s been a few years since Hanggai lead singer Yi Liqi’s conversion from Chinglishy metal-rock to the embracing of his Mongolian roots – anyone who’s seen them on the local scene pretty much knows what the band is about today. As the title of this album suggests, here’s a show of Mongolian language, traditional instruments, and of course, throat-singing.

Ah yes, throat-singing: that strange, low-toned vocal technique that allows the singer to achieve two, or even three, distinct tones simultaneously. It’s an interesting phenomenon and anthropologists have documented numerous examples of it throughout central Asia. Certainly, it’s also a worthy art, and one that Yi Liqi has mastered well. But while Hanggai may be responsible for the outbreak of amateur throat-singers around Beijing, they’ve almost pigeon-holed themselves as the local throat-singing wonders. There’s certainly plenty of throat-singing on the record; probably too much – just as experimental feedback can benefit from strategic cutting, the same goes for abstract vocal warbling. It plays towards the brand of exoticism that gives them shallow appeal and boosts their name (note the trend of visiting musicians hoping to join in on “cross-cultural” jams). But even while their sound can invoke a certain Grassland epic-ness, there’s little that separates this as an “album” beyond a mere “record” of folk melodies and techniques. As a traditional folk band, perhaps it’s simply their goal to preserve; as a modern, living band, however, they’ve hardly evolved since Yi’s epiphany. Those with an interest beyond Hanggai as a one-trick pony will undoubtedly get bored with a repeated listening: even at a short ten tracks, it’s a tedious 40 minutes.


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