Hangin' With Hanggai: An Olympian Q&A With the Mongolian-Chinese Champs
As you've no doubt seen via coverage surrounding the Olympic Games, it's harder and harder to escape the modern world in Beijing these days. So it's no surprise that Ilchi (no last name), of the band Hanggai, based in the Chinese capital, cites some rather modern favorites:
"Some of the Western bands that have influences us are Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Secret Machines, Electralane and Neil Diamond!" he says via email, in translation by the group's manager and co-producer Robin Haller, the concluding exclamation point showing awareness of the incongruity of that last selection, perhaps.
The song 'Five Heroes,' on 'Introducing Hanggai,' the first release by the band outside of China, does indeed hold a few subtle echoes of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here." If Pink Floyd had played alongside Kublai Khan as his army stormed into Dadu (the precursor of Beijing) 737 years ago. This is anything but Westernized, modernized music, even with the very occasional (and always understated) addition of electric guitar, bass and electronics by Haller and co-producer Matteo Scumaci to the otherwise very acoustic, very traditional sounds made by the group's six members -- nothing you'd confuse with 'Kid A,' or 'Sweet Caroline,' for that matter. (For a taste, here's a video of a club appearance in Berlin last year.)
As such, it makes a terrific contrast/complement to the music of recent Around the World guest Sa Dingding, as both she and Hanggai originated in the Chinese provincial Inner Mongolian grasslands and relocated to Beijing. Her electronic atmospheres and consciously cross-cultural reach have made her a rising star in cosmopolitan circles. Hanggai's presence have taken