Various Artists

Tibetan Incantations [Nascente]

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Traditionalists should avoid this CD at all costs. The front cover art and back blurb would lead the consumer to expect religious devotions straight out of a monastery -- droning voices accompanied by resonant bells and flanked by spaces of living silence. Although the opening chimes are promising, what follows could dispatch a diabetic at 50 paces. There are allegedly instruments like wooden flutes, drums, and lutes buried somewhere under the gooey vocals and layers of banal new age electronica. The first track features a fiddler who does an amazing impression of Welsh soprano Charlotte Church, followed by a mixed choir repeating a mantra until the listener achieves not the bliss of nirvana, but a sensation resembling Chinese water torture. The second tune is redolent of the type of easy fix offered by fake spiritual leaders in that it slows one's heart and respiration, but also hits their brain like a shot of industrial-strength Novocain. The third and final cut purports to be an alternative version of the first but actually consists of 26 minutes and 29 seconds worth of chanting voices punctuated by woodblocks and bells. Of course, for devout Buddhists, the latter is probably more the thing wanted, but everyone else would probably use it to wiggle out of a stubborn lease. As for the first two pieces, why anybody would meditate to this stuff is difficult to fathom, unless one's actual focus is planning a trip to the mall or wondering how the compost heap is coming along.

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