Munich-based Mongolian singer Enji Erkhem expands her sound with an international quintet.
Following up on her amazing 2021 album Ursgal, Mongolian singer Enji Erkhem dives further inward on her latest offering on Squama Recordings. Filled with spoken monologues, soaring melodies, melancholic dreams, and personal stories, Ulaan is a deeply introspective journey through Enji’s past, present, and future lives as she forges a singular musical path far from home. “I have to remember who I am,” she says, explaining her choice of spoken monologue in the album’s opening moments. “It empowers me.”
Enji’s journey so far has been characterized by change. Born in Ulaanbaatar to a working-class family, she originally intended to become a music teacher before a chance audition for the Goethe Institute led her to a career as a jazz soloist. After moving to Munich, a connection with Squama Recordings’ Martin Brugger sent her down another path into composition and writing. “I never write music. I can’t do it,” she had originally said to Brugger. On her latest full-length album Ulaan, Enji continues her seemingly exponential growth as she steps into a bandleader position, bringing together an international quintet featuring her original trio along with two renowned Brazilian musicians: jazz drummer Mariá Portugal and experimental clarinet player Joana Queiroz.
The sound of the group is both otherworldly and familiar. Mongolian folk melodies meet subtle Latin rhythms. Virtuosic clarinet weaves through delicate beds of jazz harmony. Khalkha spoken word dances over bowed string bass. With no exaggeration, the music is quite unlike anything we’ve heard before and seems to be exploring uncharted territory — a sort of borderless contemporary jazz with deep roots in traditional music.
Ulaan will be officially released into the world this Friday on vinyl, CD, and digital via Bandcamp. Amazingly, Squama Recordings has offered In Sheep’s Clothing followers an exclusive first listen to the entire album! Listen below, and pick up the vinyl.
For more from the captivating world of Enji, we highly recommend checking out the singer’s latest music film, which premiered earlier this week on Nowness Asia: “Three objects spread across the former life of Enji. As a ghost, she follows old paths to reclaim these objects, hidden away. As she collects all three, her new self will choose which part of her past will be carried on to the next life.” (Trailer below – stream the full film here)