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Introducing Hanggai

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Album Review

It's not what you'd expect — a group from Beijing, mostly comprised of Mongolians, playing horsehair spike fiddles and two-string lutes, with Central Asian overtone signing — and sounding at times remarkably like the Velvet Underground. But that's exactly what this six-piece manages, thanks in part to the droning, monotone quality of many of the songs and the touches of programming and guitar from Western producers Robin Haller and Matteo Scumaci. What they bring is evident in the first few cuts of the disc, as on "Five Heroes" and "Flowers." It's subtle, but highly effective, and the fact that the band uses Western-style chord changes for some songs helps the process. Of course, they're not trying to imitate the Velvets — it simply happens that way, and even the otherworldly overtone singing can't detract from the similarities at times. It changes for the last few cuts, where they function more organically and the songs have a more traditional feel, as with "Drinking Song" and "Four Seasons," giving them the feel of two separate groups. In fact, the more modern-sounding pieces are the more disorienting and surprising because of their context — but they're remarkably satisfying, and mark a band (and producers) with plenty of originality.

Customer Reviews

Fantastic Album

A surprising album that's impossible to pigeon-hole, lying somewhere between folk and country and definitely moving beyond that horrible exoticising tag of 'world music'. Not only do I love it but everyone I have played it to has been blown away. A really smart update of traditional mongolian music that doesn't diminish any of the songs' timeless soul. It is on constant rotation in my car!

Compelling!

Takes stereotyped world music and demolishes it with this album! To have a country folk ancestral genre that can translate and appeal to an audience in the western world yet still hold its feel for its Chinese heritage is astounding. This album is produced brilliantly! Highly recommended!

Introducing Hanggai, Hanggai
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  • £7.90
  • Genres: World, Music
  • Released: 28 July 2008

Customer Ratings

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