WHATEVER else the Mongolian band Anda Union might think of the bedlam that is the Fringe, they really appreciate all the rain. “Good rain, good grass,” one band member pronounces, spoken like the native of the Mongolian plains that he is.
Good grazing, of course, means healthy horses, and their music is full of them, from their totemic, elegantly carved horse-head fiddles to the show’s title tune and their closing stampede, evoking enough fleet-footed steeds to carry Genghis Khan’s hordes – or, if the pace is anything to go by, a legion of Lone Rangers.
The six singer-instrumentalists, augmented by male and female solo singers, generate a mighty sound – a combination of instrumental resources including those morin khuur fiddles, a rectangular-bodied Mongolian lute, Jew’s harp, flute and drums, and the uncanny, larynx-twisting growl of their overtone singing.
Their opening number alone could have supplanted an entire old-fashioned BBC sound effects department, as they evoked wind-swept steppes, bird calls, ringing bells and, of course, the approaching thunder of hooves.
Exotic stuff, you might think, but what is perhaps surprising is that much of this music is tunefully accessible. At one point their female singer, Saihanniya, sings a beautifully nuanced melody over a guttural background growl, the song threaded through with mellifluous, cello-like lines from the fiddles. Later, she joins the male singer for a haunting duet, his vocals swooping and ululating, hers trilling delicately, against an atmospheric backdrop of instrumental and vocal drones.
Their flautist could stand in for a trio, as he demonstrates in a solo spot, playing a tune on flute while accompanying himself with his own, buzzing, wheedling throat singing, with no evident symptoms of hyperventilation.
• Until 27 August. Today 3:30pm.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west