Mongolia: Altan Urag

Ah, Altan Urag! This Mongolian folk rock band is one of the hidden pearls that motivated me to start this blog. Altan Urag now counts seven members (though I was only able to find a picture from the time where they were six): B. “Erka” Erdenebat (Yoochin, piano), M. “Chimdee” Chimedtogtokh (pipe, throat singing vocals), Ts. Gangaa (Great Fiddle, bass), P. “Oyunaa” Oyunbileg (Moriin Khuur, throat singing vocals). B. “Tungaa” Bolortungalag (drums, percussion), and B. Burentogs (Moriin Khuur, throat singing vocals). The band was formed in 2002, and according to its website (designed as a Mongolian ger, I recommend you check it out), the band’s vision is “both to promote Mongolian culture to the world and to introduce traditional music to the young people of their country“. In pursuit of this noble task, they released seven albums by 2011: Foal’s Been Born (2004), Made in Altan Urag (2006), Hypnotism (2008), Blood (2009), Nation (2010), Once Upon a Time in Mongolia (2010) and Mongol (2010).

According to a Mongolian friend, Altan Urag are very famous in their country, and are even listened to by people who would otherwise only listen to “mainstream music”. Their work featured in the movies “Khadak” and “Mongol“. The latter movie depicts the life of Genghis Khan and its considerable international success gave Altan Urag a very positive image in their home country, where Genghis Khan is still seen as the “father of the nation“. According to their website, the name of the band itself, Altan Urag, “can be loosely translated as “Kin of the Khan” or “Golden Lineage”, referring to Genghis Khan and his ancestors“. Altan Urag’s music video “Blue Mark” features scenes of the movie accompanied by their unique blend of traditional Mongolian instruments and throat-singing:

If you are interested in more music from Altan Urag, I recommend: Beast (my personal favourite, featuring a singer called Naran) and Requiem. You may also want to have a look at this Mother Mongolia music video, as it features scenes from the movie Khadak. If you are interested in throat-singing, you might be happy to know that there are a number of throat-singing tutorials to be found on youtube.