Various Artists

Sacred Music of the World: Ceremonial Songs & Dances from 30 Cultures

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This two-disc set offers 30 tracks of devotional music from different (non-Western) cultures around the world. The first thing one notices is that other folks' religious music is not so sedate as, say, a Protestant hymn. There is a lot of rhythm and percussion, a lot of fascinating instruments, and a lot of very glad-sounding voices. A few tracks are recognizable from other ARC discs, so listeners can only assume that the collection is generally drawn from the ARC catalog.

There are wonders too numerous to enumerate here. "Gorekone" is mbira music from Zimbabwe. The mbira, or thumb piano, sounds a little like a mellow xylophone. A chorus of them is divine. The group Fourth World brings us "Yonati," drawn from the Jewish Kabbalistic tradition. The male solo vocalist has a voice that is almost operatic, like the grand old cantors of Europe. The second disc starts out with the music of Baul Bishwa, which like all Baul music is joyous and fun (see Purna Das Baul for more details on the Bauls). Later there's some very creepy panpipe music performed by Ukamau; it's probably more what real pre-Columbian music sounded like, rather than the Iberianized stuff that passes for Andean music. Lots to enjoy!

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