Anda Union: Homeland

February 21, 2017


Always in Steppe

Listening Post 87. In the dim light of a New York night club, in a cavernous church in Oxford or in any secluded corner of the globe, the nine musicians of Anda Union recreate the open skies of the Central Asian grasslands. Through traditional vocals, overtone (throat) singing and Mongolian long song, playing horsehead fiddles, lutes, flutes and drums, they tell stories of herds and heroes, of lands and families. The driving forces on Homeland, their second album, are nostalgia and a passion to preserve the essence of a nomadic culture threatened by urbanization. The band—based in Hohhot, capital of China’s Inner Mongolia region—has the same magical effect when playing at full throttle or in spare arrangements. They gallop through The Herdsman—drums for hoof beats, fiddles that whinny—with soloist Biligbaatar evoking the heart of a culture: “The grass is high and lush, brushing the herdsman’s stirrups as he rides,” he sings in Mongolian, “If the horses are healthy, then he is content” (video 1). In the lovely Buriat Song (the Buriats were one of the tribes united under Genghis Khan), Tsetsegmaa sings, accompanied only by guitar and bass, of her ancestral region: “The place where the sun sets is Buriyate/The place where time began is Buriyate/The place where life began is Buriyate” (video 2). The full palette of the band’s stunning vocal and instrumental agility appears in Jangar—an epic folk song once performed by traveling bards—about a hero and his warriors (video 3). The mood turns melancholy in the emblematic Hometown and in The Mother Song, while the joy is infectious in The Drinking Song (video 4). Wherever they go, spiritually and musically the band mates of Anda Union are always in steppe. (Hohhot Records)








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