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Archive for the ‘Mongolia’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 14, 2021] The HU

The HU are from Mongolia. I saw them in this same venue two years ago.  They haven’t released much in those intervening years, but I enjoyed the first show so much I wanted to see them again (plus, I was pretty delighted that they were back touring the States). on the left side in front of Temuulen Naranbaatar a.k.a. “Temka” who plays the tovshuur (a two or three string lute-like instrument).

But I knew I wanted to be on the other side for this show.  And so I set out to stand in front of Enkhasaikhan Batjargal a.k.a. “Enkush” who played lead morin khuur.  This was pretty exciting as I really got to watch him play the solos.

The two guys in the middle are the main singers.  Galbadrakh Tsendbaatar a.k.a. “Gala” is credited with “lead throat singing,” which I love.  His voice was incredible.  He also played the morin khuur with a gorgeously carved horse head at the top.  This instrument is two-stringed and you play it with a bow.

And Nyamjantsan Galsanjamts a.k.a. “Jaya” who was sort of the lead singer, although Gala sang lead as often.  Jaya’s main instrument was, fascinatingly, the jaw harp which played a significant role in several songs.  He also played the tsuur (a Mongolian flute).

There are technically four guys in the band, but for the tour they had four extra guys supporting them.  The touring guys mostly hung at the back, although occasionally the guitarist Jambaldorj Ayush a.k.a “Jamba” would come up front.   In the back on the left was Batkhuu Batbayar on bass.  Then there were the two drummers.  Sitting at the full kit was Odbayar Gantumur a.k.a “Odko.”  The final player, and one I could see occasionally was Unumunkh Maralkhuu a.k.a “Ono.”  Ono played two large drums.  Mostly they were an accompaniment to the main drum, but occasionally they were the only percussion.  Those drums resonated loudly. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 14, 2021] The Haunt

I was pretty delighted to see that Mongolia’s The HU were coming back to Philly.  I really enjoyed their set last time and figured they’d be just as fun this time.

This year’s opening band was The Haunt, who I’d never heard of (and it’s VERY hard to find them online because there’s all kinds of Haunt-named bands).

And here’s a fascinating bit of history

The Haunt, formerly known as AnastasiaMax are from South Florida. The band consists of siblings, Anastasia Grace Haunt (lead vocals), and Maxamillion Haunt (vocals, guitar and production), alongside Nat Smallish on bass guitar (formally Beach Day), and Nick Lewert on drums (formally Ethan Bortnick).

I can’t guarantee that those last two were the rhythm section.  he mentioned their names, but all I remember is that the drummer was nicknamed “waffles.”

I arrived in the middle of the first song (I hate the parking around TLA) and managed to get past the clustered people after a song or two.  But right from the start I was impressed with the sound of the song “Constant.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 13, 2019] The HU

The HU are from Mongolia.  I first heard about them when their video for “Wolf Totem” was getting some buzz.  I loved their heavy sound and their gorgeous instruments.  I wish these pictures did justice to the intricate detail and coloring of these traditional(ish?) instruments, but the lighting was just awful the whole night.

There are technically four guys in the band, but for the tour they had four extra guys supporting them.  It’s hard to know how “necessary” the other four guys were, but honestly, the songs are so percussion-heavy, there’s no way that they could have made these songs without at least one drummer (two were even better).

The band has only one album out (so its pretty amazing that they headliners)  They played the whole album and jammed out some of the songs longer than on record.

The most surprising thing though was that the DJ from WMMR came out and introduced them saying that they played their songs on the station.  Is that possible?  That’s pretty amazing if they do.  He also made a pretty funny comment about talking to them all day (they speak almost no English), although they posted a picture showing that they took them axe-throwing which is pretty hilarious).

The four guys stood at the front of the stage. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE HU-“Wolf Totem” and “Yuve Yuve Yu” (2018).

The HU are a band from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia who plays what they call Hunnu Rock.  There are four guys in the band: Gala, Jaya, Enkush, and Temka.

They have recently posted two videos online (after having been a band for about seven years).

Two of the men in the band play the morin khuur (морин хуур), or horsehead fiddle.  It’s a traditional Mongolian bowed stringed instrument. It is one of the most important musical instruments of the Mongol people, and is considered a symbol of the Mongolian nation.  The third member plays a shudraga, a three-stringed lute-like instrument which I suspect is being run through some distortion pedals.

Their instruments are beautiful with intricate designs on the neck and the heads.

Despite the traditional instruments, The Hu play very heavy music.  The shundraga appears to be playing some heavy chords, while the morin khuur play lots of cool solos.

The first song, “Wolf Totem” opens with what sounds like 1,000 thumping drums.  The morin khuur plays a bowed melody as the chanted vocals come forward.

The vocals are something of a guttural growl, but it makes sense as what you might think a Mongol leader might sound like.  There may even be some throat singing.

I also like that there’s an eagle call at the beginning and end of the song.

The fact that the video includes a host of leather jacketed motorcycle riders chanting the choral HU is pretty awesome.  And the Mongolian scenery is breathtaking.

The second song is “Yuve Yuve Yu.”  I’m mentioning the video first because it contrasts nicely.  It shows all the band members inside, playing video games, watching TV–very Western stuff.  But when they open the door of their flat, they find themselves outside on the plains.

The first guy steps outside to find his shudraga.  The riff is a but more substantial on this song, but only slightly.  It feels less like a call to arms and more like a song.

Although with a chorus (in Mongolian) of

Hey you traitor! Kneel down!
Hey, Prophecies be declared!

This seems more of a call to arms than the other.

There’s a cool sliding violin riff an instead of the guttural chanting there’s  a relatively high-pitched sung “doo do do” melody.

Both of these songs are quite cool, especially the accompanying videos.  The band has received some attention for the videos (which is how I found them).  They’ve even got their songs on bandcamp.

I’m curious to see if this will translate into somewhat mainstream success in the west.

[READ: January 10, 2019] “Whisky Lullaby”

This excerpt from a longer story is perfectly written–I loved the way it was presented and how the “ending” was revealed (it’s an excerpt, so not the real ending).

Hamid is a Muslim man living in Scotland.  He has recently married a Scottish woman, Ruqiyyah, who had converted to Islam a few years ago.  She was seeking a partner and he was seeking citizenship.

“She had not always been Ruqiyyah, she once was someone else with an ordinary name, a name a girl behind the counter in the Bank of Scotland might have.”

As the story opens, Ruqiyyah is holding a bottle e of Johnnie Walker.  It is his Hamid’s bottle and she shouldn’t know about it.  She is very unhappy about the bottle.  Being an intense convert plus being Scottish, she takes things like this far more seriously than he does.  He knows it is wrong, but in the grand scheme of things, drinking (instead of writing his PhD thesis) is pretty harmless compared to black magic, adultery, abusing your parents.  This was human weakness and wasn’t Allah all-forgiving? (more…)

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