Suld — City Rider
(Bandcamp Totemism Productions TPCD001, 2015, CD / LP / DL)
Suld — The Memory of Nomadism
(Bandcamp Totemism Productions TPCD005, 2017, CD / DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2019-08-13
It might just be my particular circle of music fans, but I’ve noticed a lot of interest in the last few years about Central Asian traditional music fused with rock. This blend isn’t new at all, with Yat-Kha and Huun-Huur-Tu making a minor splash back in the 90s, but the level of attention seems to be notching up lately. Suld is a group with its origins in the Chinese “autonomous region” of Inner Mongolia, and their music takes elements of traditional Mongolian culture, including throat singing and morin khuur (horsehead fiddle), brings in a bit of Chinese influence, and couples those with heavy drums and rock guitar. These factors are blended very nicely, so even when the big guitars come in and the bass and drums are thundering, you can hear the morin khuur and other acoustic instruments clearly. Most of the songs are energetic, with quick rhythms supplied by some combination of morin khuur, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, guzheng, and other acoustic instruments; the drumming features a lot of patterns on toms and double-bass-drum work, though not to the point of being annoying (as sometimes happens with metal bands). While the rhythmic parts surge ahead, there is often a soaring melodic line from the morin khuur or guitar (they often trade roles). Many of the faster melodies have a slight resemblance to Celtic folk music, with bouncy pentatonic lines.
And then there’s the singing… The lead vocals feature expert throat singing, and I’m sure I’m not the first to point out that Central Asian throat singing mixes very well with heavy rock. While growling death metal vocals can be annoying (to me, at least) and unintelligible, throat singing packs a similar impact while being perfectly understandable — well, if you know Mongolian. It looks to me like the original Chinese versions of Suld albums have all the song titles in Chinese, while Bandcamp generally lists English translations. As far as I can tell, all the lyrics are actually in Mongolian, so neither set of titles is really definitive. But that’s a little nitpick of mine — I’d prefer a phonetic rendition of the Mongolian titles with translations into other languages provided elsewhere. The bottom line is that both of these albums are really excellent, and I would advise anyone who is interested in either Central Asian music or rock that comes from outside the confines of European roots to investigate Suld. The quality of the writing, the technical musicianship, and clarity of production are all top-notch.
Related artist(s): Suld
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more