This CD is the soundtrack to Nina Danino's movie Temenos, an impressionistic documentary on the Virgin Mary's alleged apparitions in Medjugorje (Bosnia). It features vocal performances by avant-garde improvisers Sainkho Namchylak and Shelley Hirsch and soprano Catherine Bott, with Danino narrating, Pavlo Beznosiuk on occasional hurdy-gurdy, and in situ recordings (birds, dogs, wind, children, pilgrims' testimonies). Each performer was recorded separately improvising solos and Danino later combined and arranged the tracks into the soundtrack presented here. The whole thing translates into an extended piece of audio art, a captivating blend of environmental sounds and vocal experimentations with narration, radio, and treated sounds adding colors here and there. Temenos is mainly a showcase for Sainkho Namchylak's incredible vocal capabilities, and the listener constantly comes back to the detailed program notes to check if the sounds are really derived from a human voice or if they are something else. The soundtrack stands nicely on its own and gains from being listened to with headphones in order to catch the quieter passages (the volume range is huge). Namchylak laughs, cries, moans, and drones in ways impossible to describe. The work is split into 22 tracks, but none of them could be taken out of its context; this is the kind of CD one must listen to in one sitting, attentively, with as little distraction and ambient noise as possible in order to be literally engulfed by the sonic tapestry. Then, and only then, will Temenos reveal its hidden beauty. For the most adventurous listeners only or those fascinated by the human voice.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture