|He Who Travels Far
BEIJING: While the seven members who comprise Hanggai currently call this Chinese capital their homebase, the highly textured and abundantly fluent repertoire of this combo is richly steeped in their Mongolian roots. For this group, there lies a real artistic calling to preserve the music of their Mongolian culture and background, The music making, for Hanggai, is thus more than just playing. It's a mission.
In a recent interview with NPR, Hanggai's vocalist and principle songwriter, Ilchi stated that, "Most of our people have moved away from the old way of life…After moving to the cities, many of us have gradually been subjected to a very strong cultural invasion by an oppressive culture. So this traditional music has completely lost its space."
But while Hanggai is palpably transporting, thus felt upon first listen, it is ironically not without its western inspiration. Ilchi, who was incidentally the frontman of a punk rock band called T9, also cites influences that stretch from the traditional grassland folk of their homeland to the likes of Rage Against The Machine, Radiohead and even Neil Diamond.
When listening to the band's last offering, Introducing Hangaii and their current masterwork, He Who Travels Far, to be released on 4Q Records this summer, the listener can't help but hear it all. At the center of this unique music are its folk roots, perfectly executed traditional throat singing, and all, but there are sophisticated splashes of everything from ska to prog rock to bluegrass to punk, effortless modulation from western to eastern musical scales, in most cases, within a single song, making Hanggai a Mongolian group from China, who really belong to the whole wide world.
In a very special series of events, Hanggai are set to play a handful of stateside shows this June, including a June 11th set at the Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, TN, along with confirmed dates in NYC and Chicago's Millennium Park (see details below).
JUNE 9: CHICAGO - MILLENIUM PARK
JUNE 10: MADISON, WI – BARRYMORE THEATRE
JUNE 11: BONNAROO FESTIVAL
JUNE 12: NEW YORK CITY: DROM