Lama Gyurme / Jean-Philippe Rykiel

The Lama's Chant: Songs of Awakening/Roads of Blessings

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In 1994, a recording of Bhutanese lama Gyurme and French keyboard player Jean-Philippe Rykiel circulated as one of the early contenders in a religious chant genre that would later encompass the popularity of the Benedictine Monks and others. The Lama's Chants/Songs of Awakening never hit as big in America as others later would, but it sold marvelously across Europe. Marking a decade since the original, Narada released a remastered version with an additional disc of live material, culled from concerts surrounding both the Songs of Awakening album and the later Rain of Blessings album. The tone remains ethereal throughout, with the solitary monk laying out a vocal texture that is doubled by the appropriately ambient tone of the keyboards. Very new age. While the compositions are surprisingly sparse (and, of course, don't contain any of Rykiel's usual Thelonious Monk inspiration), the finished product isn't too bad, even for those not attuned to the new age realm. The chants can get a bit repetitive, as chants are wont to do, but then again the point of listening to chant isn't for compositional complexity but for the mood and ambience the music inspires. The live recordings are a nice bonus for those who have already picked up the original version, but the album stands well both for newcomers and those acquainted with the style.

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