Exposé Online banner

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

City Rider Cover artThe Memory of Nomadism Cover art

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.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Suld

More info
http://suld.bandcamp.com

Latest news

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
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

2020-05-15
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


Previously in Exposé...

Dixie Dregs - Full Circle – After a less-than-spectacular live release a few years back, the Dregs are back with an all new studio release, their first in well over ten years. So what's new with these well known purveyors of...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues