Various Artists

Mongolia: Living Music of the Steppes

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AllMusic Review by

Multicultural Media has been releasing relatively exceptional albums of international traditional musics in recent years, and this installment for Mongolia is no exception. The album covers the ensemble music and song of Mongolia, with various bogino duus (short songs) as well as urtin duus (long songs) showcasing the pastoral style of music enjoyed by the Mongolians. Also included are shorter bits showcasing both the traditional instruments in solo works, as well as the fabled khoomi singing, or as more Westernized groups such as Huun Huur Tu have popularized, "throat singing," where the formant of the sound spectrum is shifted to a higher overtone of the fundamental to effectively create a dual tone from the voice. Finally, songs from and/or about Mongols in China are included. Highlights on this album are mainly the shorter bits of instrumental soloing, particularly Nergui's morin khuur solo on "Jonon Qara's Run," Dandram's solo on the shudraga for "Copper and Steel," and the two khoomi pieces by Tserendawah. One last highlight is the long song by Gereltu about Dugureng Zaan, a folk hero wrestler murdered by the Han because he defeated one of their wrestlers. Overall, the album is an exceptional reprise, if a short one, of Mongolian music, and should be checked out by anyone with a leaning towards the Central Asian sound, though it can range from overly complex to drab for the uninitiated.

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