Monday, December 19th, 2016

Orgil ft. NMN – Ene Udaa

Wigs, cheekbones, cars, and… fucking Drake?!?!?


Olivia Rafferty: An understated dancehall rhythm, light vocals, a vague aura of “I’m a sad, sad single man and you’re missing my calls.” When does Drake turn up for the party?

Will Adams: As gloomy dancehall goes, “Ene Udaa” offers a lot more detail than the standard Drake song, but the one detail it neglects is the most crucial; what could’ve been an engaging back-and-forth between Orgil and NMN turns out to be a frustrating three minutes of poor vocal mixing.

Ramzi Awn: In a time when music has begun to track the hardships of love and relationships through both video and audio channels, there are three projects of note: Jhene Aiko and Big Sean’s TWENTY88, Beyonce’s Lemonade, and “Ene Udaa.” Down to the wigs, cheekbones and cars, the futuristic videos for “Ene Udaa” and TWENTY88 bear an uncanny likeness to one another. Not to mention the music. Orgil’s voice conjures Jhene in the best possible way: simple, sexy and sweet. I’m glad I didn’t have the chance to review TWENTY88 as I would have been ill-equipped to offer sound reasoning on the freshest record of the year, but luckily, Orgil and NMN have produced another installment in the next wave of popular music. 

Brad Shoup: Just as the last century’s most influential artist was almost certainly Bob Marley, I hear this song and wonder if this century’s analogue will be Drake. Sadbois are all around us, but this particular sound — the moans of a ghost locked in the club’s storeroom — is all Aubrey ‘n’ Noah. NMN is operating on a Jhene Aiko level, hitting all the gears without ever revving too hard. The baritone intruders at the end — are they new singers? are they pitch-adjusted versions of our leads — are a claritive trick which shows the durability of the model.

Jonathan Bradley: It’s tough to tell that these two are singing a duet — their voices meld into a unified whisper of snatched phrasing and insatiable desire. The real stand-out element, though, is a swell of twilit synth, lurking in large empty spaces of the track, pulsing intermittently before returning to the gloom. It would be deep house but for the broken beat driving the song, which it makes it all the more entrancing.

William John: The monotonous drumbeat in “Ene Udaa” is punctuated by ominous string pulses, while Orgil and NMN seem to punctuate each other’s sentences. Portent is omnipresent, and it’s evident that both have resigned themselves to defeat. There’s an air of sickness, of that wretched moment of relenting to tribulation but before the rapprochement with oneself, and of epiphany. It’s as though, having encircled each other for so long, they each have finally understood one other, but simultaneously realised that the understanding was one they feared most. Their expressive whispers accentuate the melancholia, despite the heavy language barrier.

Jessica Doyle: Those of y’all following pop in the more widely spoken languages, please take a moment to thank your translators. Having a translation at hand is a luxury–and, if you’ll pardon an awkward transition, “Ene Udaa” sure enough sounds luxurious, smooth and glossy, Orgil and NMN taking turns making statements without feeling the need to raise their voices. I get the impression there’s a lot being left unsaid; and man I wish I could understand what’s said, to start.

Edward Okulicz: Not knowing that this was a Mongolian song when I listened to it, my brain grasped for any syllable or word I could identify, expecting it to be Russian rather than a language in its own family. Knowing it’s in a language in another family out of a country whose pop I know nothing about makes this tantalising because it’s a good little sad-R&B melange. Orgil is appropriately mopey and numb but where NMN gets to play with a melody we’ve heard or answer him, she steals it. I’d like to give it an [8] but that chanted group-vocal chorus seems a bit clumsy, especially compared to NMN’s poise.

Jonathan Bogart: First: yes, it’s weird and borderline-inappropriate that I’ve gotten really into Mongolian pop lately, since I don’t speak Mongolian (or even really understand its syntactical structure), have no connection to the region, and know only the bare Wikipedia minimum about its culture. Even my fondness for it as one of the smaller and more insular global pop scenes could be condescending, a hipster you-wouldn’t-have-heard-of-it snoot that evades having to do the work of engaging with a much more dedicated and opinionated international fanbase (like, say, K-pop’s). My only excuse is that a lot of the music is really good: beautifully produced, tenderly performed, thoughtfully orchestrated electropop with the sort of muted but delicately inflected emotional range that makes someone as emotionally muted as myself blink back tears. If I’d never seen the gorgeous, cryptic video for “Ene Udaa,” I don’t know that I’d have connected to it as powerfully as I have, but that’s a moot point: my day-to-day musical life is spent on YouTube these days, and I fell in love with NMN’s eyerolls and awkward dancefloor bopping at the same time that I fell in love with the minimalist synth washes and the tightly-controlled mutters of her and Orgil’s singing. Which isn’t particularly representative of the full range of either performer’s musical persona (see Orgil’s creamy R&B and NMN’s throwback hip-hop from earlier this year), but as a tightly-structured, hermetic one-off it’s unimpeachable, a more thoughtful and adult version of “Closer,” in which the emotionally exhausted former lovers allow themselves regret, spite, and generosity (Google Translate isn’t great with Mongolian, but its attempt at the lyrics is here) without any narcissistic Mountain Dew sloganeering. Plus, hella cheekbones.

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3 Responses to “Orgil ft. NMN – Ene Udaa”

  1. Probably worth noting that that’s not Orgil in the screencap next to NMN.

  2. NMN’s hair and stare combo was too perfect to resist tho

  3. JB, I will push back on your argument somewhat (although somewhat self-interestedly, given I’ve spent the last month or so fangirling over a Kazakh boy band). There is a definite risk in looking like one is trying to mine social capital over bringing an obscure group to attention — all the more so when the group’s entire scene is overlooked for geographic / linguistic / political reasons — but I’m not sure not talking about said group is more appropriate. And I’m certainly not convinced that engaging in K-pop fandom is somehow more virtuous.