The Grasslands Ensemble & Daniel Ho – The Sky & Prairie (Wind Music, 2017)
The Sky & Prairie is a remarkable production that brings together the talents of Inner Mongolian act The Grasslands Ensemble (天草之間遊牧樂團)and Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso, producer and composer Daniel Ho. The project was envisioned by Taiwanese record company Wind Music. The label’s Judy Wu produced the album.
The album features new versions of traditional Mongolian, Buryat, Barga, Manchurian, Evenk and Daur folk songs performed by musicians based in Hulunbuir, in Inner Mongolia’s prairie region. The artists represent a wide range of ethnicities, including Mongolian, Manchurian, Evenk, Daur, Russian and Han Chinese.
Daniel Ho composed the opening song and participates throughout the album playing ukulele and piano.
On The Sky & Prairie you’ll listen to various traditional instruments such as the iconic morin khuur (horse-head fiddle), Central Asian lutes and jaw harps along with conventional singing and throat singing.
The Hulunbuir-based ensemble includes Borjigin Hasibatu on vocals; Qiqigema on vocals; Bayinhehe on vocals; Han Mou Ren on the rare chaoer (Mongolian bowed instrument) and morin khuur; Tamir Hargana on tsuur and throat singing; and the Hasar Band: Yimin on morin khuur and backing vocals; Cai Yi-Fei on morin khuur, tsuur flute, backing vocals; Bao Wuyunbilige on lead vocals and tovshuur (thorat singing); Wang Jian on doshpuluur (a long-necked lute) and backing vocals; Aqitu on lead vocals, percussion and amen khuur (jaw harp); and Bao Yue-Yong on morin khuur.
The packaging is stunning. The CD is included in a hardcover book with a beautifully designed book that contains biographies, photos and credits in English and Chinese.
The Sky & Prairie is a splendid recording featuring exquisite versions of timeless folk songs from Central Asian regions.