Various Artists

Tibetan Buddhist Rites From the Monasteries of Bhutan, Vol. 2: Sacred Dances & Rituals

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Placing in the top five of the longest album titles in history, this is one of the gentler collections of Tibetan music available. The majestic themes delivered by these wonderful ensembles of shawms, trumpets, and varied percussion approach almost a pastoral level at some points, the pitches and overtones of the hand-clanged cymbals ringing together into pure shimmers of cosmic sound. There is also a great sense of space in these recordings, which can be attributed to the surroundings in which the music was recorded, including a historic monastery in the Valley of Chume in Bhutan. The second side of the album is devoted to excerpts from the "Seven Supplications to Padma Sambhava," recorded in a smaller temple with a smaller choir of monks and some of the same great instruments, including shawms, trumpets as long as crocodiles, cymbals, drums, and hand bells. One drum is bashed with a crooked stick, another is called an hourglass pellet drum and is played with incredible verve by one of the many unidentified monks who participated in these early-'70s recordings. Again it is the shawms that make the most intoxicating music on tracks such as "Chendren, Invitation" and a folk song entitled "Bo Gi Gyaling." There were four volumes released in this label's original series of Tibetan music, the material later collected together for a lavish CD box set. In both cases, the liner notes are detailed and informative, including notated musical examples that will be of more use to the serious musician than a dozen general business gigs.

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