Hanggai — He Who Travels Far
(World Connection WC 039, 2010, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2011-06-01
Since their 2008 debut CD, this band from Inner Mongolia (currently resident in Beijing) has become a world music festival favorite, playing WOMAD, among others. That release blended the earthy sounds of throat singing and morin khuur (horsehead cello) with a bit of electric guitar, varied percussion, and some electronics (which of course offended many purists). Their second effort continues in the same vein, with even more electric guitar. I find that the impact of the music is greatly enhanced by this departure from traditional sound — "Uruumdush" builds to rock intensity, with thunderous drums and power chords, though no one would mistake it for Linkin Park or AC/DC. Other songs tip the modern/traditional balance the other way, sticking to banjo-like string sounds and the morin khurr. While throat-singing may be most arresting when done in a rather sparse setting (I can attest to the spine-tingling brought on when two of these guys get going full bore on the mics), the eerie tones blend remarkably well with Hanggai's instrumental backing. I was lucky enough to encounter the band busking at a shopping center in Beijing in October 2010 (quite a change from playing for thousands at a festival!) and was able to pick up their second album nearly a month before its proper release; I was happy to pay the inflated price to support these great creative musicians, and luckily the CD is well worth the money spent.
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more