Anda Union
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Anda Union

Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China | SELF

Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China | SELF
Band World Folk




"Fine horsemen in full throat"

Anda Union were Songlines’ favourite band at WOMAD this summer. From Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia (the part of Mongolia within China), the dozen-strong group have a varied repertoire of spectacular throat singing – both the growly kind and the ethereal, shimmering variety – and instrumental playing, notably on the horse-head fiddle (morin huur), their emblematic instrument. Although the band have only recently performed in the West and this is their debut CD, Anda Union formed over a decade ago, in 2000, to unearth and promote the traditional music of Inner Mongolia. In this they are similar in style and approach to Huun Huur Tu from the Russian Republic of Tuva (bordering Outer Mongolia), although Anda Union is a much larger group, with both male and female vocalists. They are much less rocky than their Beijing-based compatriots Hanggai, but no less impressive.

The dramatic ‘Hoorai’ has a swirling torrent of overtone singing and incisive stabbing chords. ‘Boomborai’ has breathy vocals and a horse-head fiddle solo that sounds as sumptuous as a cello. The mysterious ‘Legend of the Swan Brothers’ takes throat singing to the extreme, with boings of Jew’s harp and intense moadinchur (flute) playing. You can watch the show-stopping ‘Galloping Horses’ performed at WOMAD on the Songlines YouTube channel. A thrilling debut.

Simon Broughton
- Songlines

"Anda Union: The Wind Horse – review"

Hohhot is the capital city of the Inner Mongolia region of northern China, and the home of Anda Union, a 10-piece band who have set out to preserve Mongolian culture with its stirring musical styles that should prove remarkably accessible to western audiences. Many of their melodies sound as sturdy as great Celtic folk themes, while the fiddle-backed Give You a Rose sounds strangely like an east European dance tune. The obvious comparison is with those excellent Beijing-based Mongolian folk-rockers Hanggai, but Anda Union take a more traditional, acoustic approach, matching their sometimes growled and eerie throat singing techniques against morin khuur (horse head) fiddles, flute and Mongolian percussion – and with no guitars or keyboards. They are fine singers as well as instrumentalists, and demonstrate their seven-part harmonies on the complex and gently dramatic The Legend of the Swan Brothers and the epic Genghis Khan. They show off their instrumental skills on Galloping Horses, on which the fiddles produce whinnying effects and the percussion sounds like pounding hooves. They will hopefully be touring here in the spring. - Guardian

"Womad – review"

Some of the festival's more extraordinary sounds came from Mongolia and beyond in the shape of AnDa Union ......... revitalising their homelands' traditional music - The Observer

"Womad Festival"

One of the unique benefits of WOMAD is seeing artists like this not just on a big stage but in an intimate context. The Taste the World stage brings music, food and informal conversation together as ........ Inner Mongolian band Anda Union, another great discovery of the festival, share their dumplings and fire- water. Anda Union do other-worldly throat singing and play galloping songs that sweep you away with their horse-head fiddles. This is a band we're sure to be hearing more of. - London Evening Standard


The Wind Horse (2011)



Anda Union all trained in traditional Mongolian music from a young age, many coming from musical families. They are part of a musical movement that is finding inspiration in old and forgotten songs. As a group they hold on to the essence of Mongolian music whilst creating a form of music that is new. Anda Union combine different traditions and styles of Mongolian music, developing an innovation previously unheard of.

As with all nomads the Mongols have an oral culture, passed on generation to generation in stories, music and songs, Anda Union sing their history. The main instrument, the morin huur or horse head fiddle, pays homage to their most revered animal, the horse.

Anda Unon describe themselves as music gatherers, digging deep into Mongol traditions and unearthing bygone music. They are on a mission to save their culture and reengage young Mongols and fight for their endangered sacred grasslands. The relentless advance of the industrial world not only threatens the environment but also their ancient nomadic way of life. Nars has a music school where 20 young people live with him and study from dawn to dusk. Several of the band make their own instruments and Saikhannakhaa, who is fighting to reverse this trend with her live music bar in the capital Hohhot, says:

“I found an old golden wheel with half its spokes broken in an old dusty shop. It looks like a wheel that once turned the warrior carts of the great Mongol armies. This wheel hangs in my bar as a warning to Mongolian people that our culture is broken and needs to be mended.”

Hadanbaatar, the drummer adds: “young Mongolians like us now understand how important our culture is but maybe the next generation won’t care and we have to prevent this from happening”.

Anda means a blood brother or sister. For Mongolians an Anda is more important than a birth brother as you choose a person to become an Anda, a life long blood brother. Anda Union is a kinship of Andas.

Anda Union’s thoroughly addictive combination of Mongolian musical styles is a reflection of their roots. Hailing from differing ethnic nomadic cultures the ten strong band unite tribal and music traditions from all over Inner Mongolia. Anda Union bring a wide range of musical instruments and vocal styles together in a fusion that Genghis Khan himself would have been proud of. Keenly aware of the threat to the Grasslands and their age old Mongolian culture, Anda Union are driven by their fight for the survival of this endangered way of life, by keeping the essence of the music alive.

Formed 11 years ago in 2000 they have influenced a generation of young
Mongolians in Inner Mongolia as traditional music flourishes in the capital. Nars says, “Most of the band members have been playing together since childhood. As adults, we studied professional vocals and instruments together. We are like a family. ten years ago, Anda Union was forged and we haven’t looked back.”