Global album of the month: Elegant and powerful twist on traditional Mongolian musicRead Review
The Ulaanbaatar-born singer shows there is more to her country than throat singing: her dextrous voice sits between jazz improv and ceremonial song. Mongolian music has a long history of producing captivating vocal styles. The best-known is throat singing – a reverberating technique that produces multiple pitches during a single phrase. Raw, earthy and a predominantly male pursuit, throat singing is more of a droning instrumental sound than a means of conveying lyrics. For the Ulaanbaatar-born singer Enkhjargal Erkhembayar, AKA Enji, there is another side to her country’s song – a delicate, dexterous vocal that sits between jazz improvisation and the ceremonial long song (Urtiin duu), a vibrato-laden style of singing where syllables are drawn out to create melismatic lines that can spend minutes expressing single words.
Born into a lineage of long song singers, Erkhembayar’s 2017 debut, Mongolian Song, featured traditional compositions with sprightly jazz arrangements, while 2021’s Ursgal comprised nine original songs. On Ulaan, Erkhembayar produces the most singular vision of her Mongolian jazz music yet, through 10 new compositions of scat singing, atmospheric soundscapes and acoustic instrumentation blended with her yearning voice.
Opening softly on the rolling toms and bowed bass of Zuud, Erkhembayar’s vocal is meandering yet insistent, building to a crescendo before skipping over the syncopated Latin rhythms of following number Tavishral. Her graceful, airy tone continues over the finger-picked guitar of Duulnaa and mirrors the warmth of woodwinds on the title track, bringing to mind melodically-nimble jazz contemporaries such as Gretchen Parlato and Becca Stevens.
Goethe Institute Popcast31.08.23
An extraordinary work full of beauty and sublimityRead Review
Mongolian jazz singer Enji recorded her third album Ulaan in Unterföhring's Mastermix Studio for the unique Munich-based Squama label. As with the previous album Ursgal, the predominantly quiet compositions combine traditional Mongolian music, language and storytelling with contemporary folk and jazz. On this release, she expands her trio to include two Brazilian musicians on clarinet and drums, who enrich the stylistic spectrum in surprising and fascinating ways. An extraordinary work full of beauty and sublimity.