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Album Review

There are lots of awful musical genre designations out there, but surely "Chinagrass" is one of the worst. It's probably an inevitable one, though, since it refers to a strange blend of traditional Chinese and Kazakh folk music with strains of American old-time and country music; and its poster boy is Xinjiang native Mamer. He's a very fine player of the dombra (a two-string lute that is hugely popular in the region) and also an excellent guitarist, and although it's possible to pick out individual threads in his musical fabric that might bring to mind American folk sonorities, Mamer's music really doesn't sound like anything but Mamer. He wears his eclectic heritage lightly and naturally: there's the occasional passage of throat singing (notably by guest vocalist Ilchi on "Proverbs"), there's a banjo-and-guitar duet featuring Béla Fleck; there are a number of traditional Kazakh folk songs. Not everything is equally entrancing: "Where Are You Going?" is frankly kind of tedious, and the late Hector Zazou's remix of "Mountain Wind" doesn't add an awful lot to the original version. But pretty much everything else is both fascinating and involving, and Mamer's deep, plainspoken voice is a joy.

Customer Reviews

Love Mamer!

Beautiful, shamanic, deep.....


Formed: Xinjiang, Western China

Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Mamer is a Kazak-language contemporary folk singer/songwriter from China who made his international album debut in 2009. Though he later moved to Beijing, Mamer is originally from Xinjiang, a far-flung province in western China, where he learned to play the dombra, an instrument native to the region, and where he learned a great deal about the folklore and folk songs of the region. In Beijing he was part of the band IZ, which performed Kazak-language songs in a traditional style. Between 2006 and...
Full Bio
Eagle, Mamer
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