Magnolian’s “Famous Men” EP: A post-folk meditation on life

Cover of "Famous Men" EP

Bilguun Munkhjargal wrote a review of the “Famous Men” EP. Bilguun Munkjargal is the co-author of “Caffeine Deficiency” and the author of the blog Asian Gypsy. He is currently the Creative Director at Y&R Mongolia, a full-service creative and research agency based in Ulaanbaatar.

Review by Bilguun Munkhjargal

Magnolian, the project of Dulguun Bayasgalan, caught listeners’ attention a fewmonths ago with the release of his fun and catchy tune “Someday”, featuring Enkhjin on vocals. Now, back with his debut EP, Magnolian’s “Famous Men” is full of character that is refreshing and beautiful to behold. Possessing the charm and simple joy of a musician on a couch with a guitar, “Famous Men” is a meditative, contemplative. and at times, fun and easy-going journey through six tracks (plus the bonus track “Banquet” in Mongolian).

“The Dream of a Ridiculous Man” is a quiet contemplation of death. You can almost imagine it as the soundtrack to the calm and subtly tense moments before a spaghetti western showdown scene, sort of a Radiohead meditation on a Tarantino movie scene.

“Famous Men”, the title track, is reminiscent of Nick Drake circa the “Pink Moon” era.

“The Bride and the Bachelor” is a summery duet with Tselmuun, with the powerhouse vocalist’s voice lending itself to subtlety and depth in the catchy and sophisticated tune about coming of age.

Dulguun’s voice is deep and delicate, and one imagines he will develop the whiskey gravelly-ness of mid-year Tom Waits in the years to come.

“Famous Men” is by far one of the best albums to come out of Mongolia in 2016, with an emphasis on “out of”, as Magnolian’s songwriting in English provides accessibilityto a global audience. To prove the point, Magnolian’s EP has already been named the best underground album of July by Nerdist, a U.S. digital media network of hugely popular podcasts.

While folk in nature, Magnolian’s music is anything but ethnic. Drawing on the influences of the likes of Lou Reed, Nick Drake, Bon Iver, and Radiohead circa “OK Computer”, there is much beauty to behold in Magnolian’s debut EP: the seamlessmorin khuur arrangement of “The Bride and the Bachelor” that catches you by surprise, the simplicity and the sunshine mantra of “The Beach Song”, and the melancholy anthem of “Banquet” ending in a freewheeling brass arrangement.

Expect to hear much more from Magnolian in the near future.