Thursday, August 7, 2014

Music Showcase: Altan Urag

Altan Urag, Folk Rock from Mongolia

You're going to have to bear with me, because words can hardly explain just how amazing I find this band to be. Their name meaning 'Golden Dynasty' in Mongolian, this band takes the traditional instruments and music of Mongolia and gives it a heavy dose of modern influence and individuality. The first thing you really need to know in my case of how awesome they are? Ever heard of a Moren Huur/Moren Khuur? It's a traditional instrument in Mongolia, known to us as a 'horse head fiddle.' 

Here is a comparison between the classic horse head fiddle and their horse head fiddle:

That's right. It's a sleek, black XENOMORPH headed fiddle. Like, the things from Alien.

I couldn't really find a good picture of theirs, so if you want to see a clearer picture of the head of it, refer to the album art at the bottom of this page, which is fittingly a portrait shot of it. They also have other special ones, such as ones with the heads of monsters and dragons. Oh, by the way, I own a moren khuur. Totally inspired by these guys. And I totally can't play it. Moving on.

This band has a lot of videos, so I've put a lot of thought into which ones I will be featuring. I'll be starting with one of their slower ones. It's an instrumental, although, a warning, as it has a little spoken intro between a man and a kid, and the kid's first line is kind of startling if you have your speakers turned up high. This song is called Requiem:

This song honestly chills me to the bone, every time I hear or watch it.

Now, to feature their more rock side, have a look at this one. It even sounds like rock, lol. It's called Rakh II: 

This came on during a terrible lightning storm driving home at night once. Most Epic Drive EVER.

I honestly found these guys on youtube years ago. I had searched for mongolian folk songs and, in my exploration of the culture's more classical routes, came upon these guys by chance. I knew immediately that I had to find this album for purchase. And yes, if you haven't guessed, I look up off the wall things like that on youtube. I've found my share of musical treasures doing it, can you really blame me?

Anyway, these guys were so good that they caught the eye of the producers of the movie Mongol, which happens to star one of my favorite pieces of eye candy--I mean--actors, Tadanobu Asano. Altan Urag and a finnish man by the name of Tuomas Kantelinen composed its soundtrack, and it is also great stuff. This is the bad ass song they produced in commemoration of the movie, filled with scenes from the movie throughout it:

The singing style featured in this song is a traditional Mongolian/Tuvan style called Throat Singing.

You probably want me to quit linking videos by now, and that's okay. I understand. This post is beginning to look like one of those old myspace pages. You know, everyone had 'that one friend' who would load up their page with vid after vid, made it take forever to load... So, here, have some links, and go forth spreading this great music, whether you favor their rock side or their folk side more!

Product Details
Click for link to amazon.
A link to their official website, which is by far the COOLEST BAND SITE EVER.
Band's Facebook page.

Maybe I will follow up with a picture of me and my moren huur some time. :)
If only to prove it.

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