Another admirable effort on the part of Rounder in bringing back Alain Danielou's vision of a full set covering as many of the world's musical cultures as possible. This album (a three-disc set) deals with the music of the four major sects of Tibetan Buddhism: the Nyingmapa, the Kagyupa, the Sakyapa, and the Gelugpa (of which the Dalai Lama is the head). The set is an ethnomusicologist's dream, and a casual listener's nightmare. While Tibetan music is performed very carefully in ritual, and has an incredibly dense backing of complex music theory in most cases, it is generally anything but pleasing to the ear. In many cases, to say that the music is grating would be a kind word for it. Nonetheless, there is a definite mystical quality about the bulk of the music, and that is truly the goal of the performers. The music is used in ritual as a means by which to ingratiate, praise, etc. the deities and figures making up the Buddhist spiritual world. The music, and the extremely extensive liner notes, present a beautiful means of gaining knowledge of the culture of the Tibetan Buddhist, and as such, Danielou's vision is held up wonderfully. Nonetheless, don't expect to hear anything profoundly beautiful in the majority of the albums. Buy it for education, not entertainment. On an interesting sidenote, many of the Gelugpa tracks were recorded in 1961, shortly before the bulk of the sect fled from China into India.
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AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2
Track Listing - Disc 3