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Peter Uys "Toypom" (Sandton)

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All I Intended to Be
All I Intended to Be
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £8.50

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Approaching the sublime, 19 Jun. 2009
This review is from: All I Intended to Be (Audio CD)
The sound is a departure from Wrecking Ball (1995), Red Dirt Girl (2000) and Stumble Into Grace (2003), considered her Daniel Lanois trilogy although the last two were produced by Malcolm Burn. It's not a return to her earlier style either, despite the production of Brian Ahern who was responsible for masterpieces like Luxury Liner, Elite Hotel and Blue Kentucky Girl.

Most tracks appear to be in the mournful ballad mould; they may be melancholic on the surface but there's a subversive undertone of hope. The opening number Shores of White Sand, defiant and life-affirming, is given a wistful air by a recorder flute. This contrasts nicely with the rock ballad Hold On where slide electric & electric guitars call the tune.

Patti Griffin's Moon Song has stirring mandolin and accordion whilst Mark Germino's Broken Man's Lament is a springsteenesque tale of resignation with references to Patsy Cline and the 1960s Procol Harum classic A Whiter Shade of Pale. Then suddenly there's soul. Emmylou's own Gold, on which Dolly Parton and Vince Gill provide harmony vocals, is pure poetry. Sonically, the twang puts it firmly in the country camp.

With their voices, a banjo & guitar, Canada's talented McGarrigle sisters add magic to the second Harris composition How She Could Sing The Wildwood Flower. The magic intensifies through a striking interpretation of Tracy Chapman's All That You Have Is Your Soul, one of the album's highlights. Then Emmylou's vocals rise a register or two for Take That Ride with its impressive electric guitars.

Atmospheric accordion & mandolin accompany the duet with Mike Auldridge called Old Five and Dimers Like Me, a track as good as any on her Duets album whilst Kern River, written by Merle Haggard, sounds vaguely familiar in theme, tune & structure to some other country or folk song. Dobro and fiddle add that special element that imprints it on one's soul.

In its regret and nostalgia, the Harris composition Not Enough recalls Dolly Parton's old hit Just Someone I Used To Know whilst Sailing Round the Room with its spectral backing vocals was co-written with Anna & Kate McGarrigle. The devotional Beyond the Great Divide is unapologetically country in sentiment & sound with aching male backing vocals that resemble those on the live album Spyboy.

The CD booklet contains all the lyrics, the credits, a message from M Lou and some lovely full-color photographs of her and various contributors. With the exception of the aforementioned Chapman interpretation, I would say Ms Harris' own compositions outshine the covers. Songs like Gold, Wildwood Flower, Not Enough and Beyond the Great Divide will soon be reckoned amongst her most beloved songs.

Lady's Not for Sale
Lady's Not for Sale

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublimely Soulful, 14 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Lady's Not for Sale (Audio CD)
This is Rita Coolidge's most soulful album. Booker T Jones plays and sings background on several tracks including the two songs he co-wrote: My Crew and Everybody Loves A Winner. A sense of sadness permeates the album with the exception of the upbeat Donut Man, the sensual Fever & I'll Be Your Baby Tonight and the spiritual excursion Inside Of Me with its gospel backing vocals which starts out on a melancholic note but steadily picks up pace to become inspiring and life-affirming.

Some tracks have more of a slight country flavor than others, like the moving Whiskey Whiskey ('milk of mercy'), the title track, Bird On A Wire and I'll Be Your Baby Tonight. The quality of both the material and delivery is of a high standard throughout. Poetic lyrics abound, as on My Crew, the Whiskey song, Winner and of course the Cohen & Dylan compositions.

The much covered Bird On A Wire gets a tender treatment and is rendered profoundly stirring by the organ-like keyboards; this interpretation equals any of the versions on the various tribute albums to Leonard Cohen like I'm Your Fan, the I'm Your Man soundtrack, Tower of Song or Democracy by Judy Collins. Embellished by harmonica, Dylan's `Baby' is playfully interpreted.

Kris Kristofferson co-wrote The Lady's Not For Sale, a gentle introspective number with an exquisite vocal arrangement. Not being familiar with all of Rita's work makes it hard for me to judge but this is the best by far of those of her albums that I have heard. The familiar covers still sound unique whilst the obscure songs have grown in stature and appeal.

Credit must go to producer David Anderle, Booker T & Priscilla Jones, Marc Benno, and Kris Kristofferson who arranged and sings background on Whiskey Whiskey and of course had a hand in composing the title track. The beautiful lead and backing vocals, sensitive arrangements and heartfelt playing make this 1972 album a sonic gem to be cherished.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dreamy, multitextured music, 5 Jun. 2009
This dreamy, avant-garde album of 1981 gave little indication of the Eurythmics' subsequent melodic pop direction that led them to mega stardom for most of the decade. It more closely resembles the work of 1970s experimentalists like Howard Devoto, Brian Eno and German artists like Can. Sometimes it even sounds like the later Cocteau Twins or the more ethereal varieties of world music. The poetic imagery and melodies are superb but it's as if Lennox & Stewart went out of their way to avoid popular appeal.

This direction is all the more odd in the light of Lennox and Stewart's previous band, the brilliant but underrated pop group The Tourists with their catchy tunes. In The Garden is a highly atmospheric work and contains at least two classics. The first is the rousing Belinda - to which Holger Czukay contributes French horn - with its cascading guitar textures, mournful drone and oriental backing vocals soaring to a scorching climax. She's Invisible Now is the second, an eerie, mournful song with a haunting spoken countdown.

English Summer is replete with chirping crickets, distant voices & traffic sounds, whilst Take Me To Your Heart & Your Time Will Come both have strong melodies. The problem is that the delivery is too subdued and understated to be immediately appealing. 'Heart' has a vague eastern feel owing to Czukay's "Thai stringed instrument." Anne's vocals on 'Your Time' are particularly arresting. The voice samples and found sounds on Caveman Head create a striking, other-worldly air.

The album's melancholia is particularly evident on the lament All The Young People Of Today, a slow song with muffled vocal samples and tortured guitar parts. The French track Sing-Sing's oneiric mood is interrupted by animal & metallic sounds. The mid-tempo Revenge, a lyrical gem, concluded the original album; it contains truly bizarre sound effects including normal and demented laughter. With its ticking clock and brooding sax, Le Sinistre amply lives up to its title.

In contrast, Heartbeat Heartbeat is urgent and uptempo, whilst the live version of Never Gonna Cry Again with its lilting beat is far more varied and appealing than the studio version. Of the other two live recordings, 4/4 In Leather is buoyant and percussive; Take Me To Your Heart which has a spoken introduction in French, concludes the album. People who like Magazine, The World of Skin, the Neo-Psychedelia of the 1990s like Rose Chronicles, the above-mentioned German avant-gardists, Brian Eno's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, etc. will appreciate In The Garden.

Beautiful photographs of Lennox & Stewart enhance the fold-out digipack & the booklet that contains a brief bio by Phil Savidge that focuses on the band's history, style & influence as well as the track listing and information on the musicians, photographers & designers. The sound is crystal clear, revealing the depth and intricacy of the complex vocal & instrumental textures.

Healing Sounds: The Power of Harmonics
Healing Sounds: The Power of Harmonics
by Jonathan Goldman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sound Therapy, 3 Jun. 2009
An excellent introduction to music as medicine, Healing Sounds examines the effects of sound on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. The author is an expert on music theory, psycho-acoustics and the use of sound in cultural traditions like the Sanskrit (his album Chakra Chants is a gem), Tibetan, Kabbalistic & Western, with emphasis on Gregorian chants. In addition, he reviews the latest scientific research on the physiological effects of music & sound.

Goldman defines overtone chanting or vocal harmonics as the capacity of the human voice to sound two or more notes simultaneously. Virtually all tones produced by musical instruments, voices or other sonic sources are blends of tonal frequencies called 'partials'. The `fundamental' is the lowest frequency whilst partials of higher frequency are `overtones.' Together these create the particular sonic color or timbre of an instrument.

Scientific research into sound includes Cymatics which is the study of the impact of sound on matter, which Goldman investigates with reference to the work of Peter Guy Manners amongst others. Healing Sounds also serves as a practical manual which offers training on how to use your voice, harmonics and vowels as mantras for personal transformation. Sound ought not to be restricted to entertainment but also used to heal & communicate.

Jonathan Goldman's impressive body of sacred sound albums includes masterpieces like Ultimate Om and Holy Harmony. For those interested in the Kabbalistic & Indian traditions, I recommend Ecstatic Kabbalah by David A Cooper and Healing Mantras by Thomas Ashley-Farrand. Another thought-provoking work on sound and music therapy is Sacred Sounds by Ted Andrews.

Memories, Dreams and Reflections
Memories, Dreams and Reflections
by Marianne Faithfull
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking, amusing & entertaining, 31 May 2009
This riveting sequel to 1994's Faithfull is less formal and detailed, a series of vignettes of people, places, movies, plays & music rather than a structured narrative. The first chapter deals with some unexpected, funny and frightening reactions to the first book. Along the way, her observations serve as a captivating history of popular culture since the 1960s. Yes, there are flashbacks; Marianne revisits her family background, childhood impressions and many interesting personalities and scenarios from the 60s and beyond. Currently out of print, Marianne Faithfull: As Tears Go By is an absorbing biography by Mark Hodkinson that charts Marianne's life and career up to 1991.

She writes with candor about her long relationship with drugs but the most arresting parts are those in which she affectionately remembers friends and acquaintances, living and departed, like the author Caroline Blackwood (who was briefly married to the confessional poet Robert Lowell), Henrietta Moraes, Roman Polanski and the legendary Beat writers William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. Fans of her music will love the three chapters devoted to the recording of specific albums: Vagabond Ways of 1999, Kissin' Time of 2002 and Before the Poison, released in 2004.

The most absorbing flashbacks to the 1960s include reminiscences of the young Beatles, Stones, Brian Epstein, Andrew Oldham, Joe Orton and albums like Revolver, Sgt Pepper, Pet Sounds, Ram & Tea for the Tillerman. She shares with Bob Dylan an ambivalence towards the sixties, claiming that 1950s bohemia was more authentic with e.g. the Beats and the decade's jazz masterpieces, so unlike the mass bohemia of the next decade which resulted in much tragedy and wretched excess. Yes, and rock `n roll was born although she doesn't mention the phenomenon.

The chapter My Life as a Magpie is a brief filmography; Marianne performed in films & TV series like Absolutely Fabulous, The Black Rider, Marie Antoinette, Irina Palm, Moondance, Shopping, Intimacy, Paris je t'aime, Lucifer Rising and Girl on a Motorcycle amongst others. One of the most enjoyable features of the book is her knowledge of and appreciation of art & literature. The text is enhanced by references to Blake, Francis Bacon, Boccaccio, Brecht, Cocteau, Dante, Flaubert, Lucian Freud, Horace, Keats, Kerouac, Lowell, Maimonides, Marlowe, Murdoch, Petrarch, Pope, Rimbaud, Sartre, Shelley, Verlaine and Welles, to mention a few.

Less famous authors, actors and directors that she appreciates plus books & movies that she finds noteworthy are introduced with interesting anecdotes or brief descriptions. These include Juliette Greco, Mick Brown, Frank Wedekind, Roberto Calasso, Philip Pullman, John Cooper Powys, Pretty Baby, Les Enfants du Paradis, Innocence, The Third Man and Manon des Sources. The chapter on Decadence with reference to Huysmans' "A Rebours" made me laugh out loud due to its subversive view of nature as measured against the Zeitgeist. The protagonist finds the artificial more appealing than the organic, praising two steam locomotives whilst dismissing nature's `disgusting sameness.' Another heresy is Marianne's rejection of the artist's self-destructive Romantic urge as infantile.

Two sets of plates, one at the beginning and another in the middle, contain 29 full-color and black & white photographs; the book concludes with an index. Although the aforementioned autobiography titled Faithfull is informative and entertaining, the spontaneity of this sequel makes it the more appealing of the two. In Marianne, the wisdom of age emerges hand-in-hand with the most delightful humor. I enjoyed this sparkling read; it is as amusing as the James Young biography of Nico, Nico, Songs They Never Play on the Radio, but significantly more thought-provoking.

Live In London
Live In London
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.53

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stirring celebration, 30 May 2009
This review is from: Live In London (Audio CD)
Live In London is a stirring celebration of Cohen's music and poetry. The sound is sublime but what makes the album so extraordinary is the interaction between the singer, musicians and audience. There's mutual appreciation between the master, the players and the fans which in the case of the latter is expressed through hearty laughter, silent reverence or rapturous applause. This affectionate atmosphere refreshes the familiar songs whilst some of them reveal new angles through effective re-arrangements, unexpected instrumental flourishes or additional/personalized lyrics. Instruments like the archilaud, banduria and laud add a spacious dimension to the sound.

From the outset the wry wit of Cohen's between-song banter establishes an intimate rapport, ameliorating the mournful or disturbing qualities in his work. His funny introduction to The Future, for example, counterbalances the song's frightening apocalyptic imagery. Leavened with humor, the concert ensures a listening experience filled with variety and emotional resonance. A Thousand Kisses Deep is performed as a spoken poem and includes more than the lyrics of the original song. Those that appear to benefit most from tweaked arrangements include Aint No Cure For Love, Bird On A Wire, Anthem with its introductory recital, Who By Fire with its long instrumental intro, the lilting Hey That's No Way To Say Goodbye, In My Secret Life, Sisters of Mercy with its tender treatment and above all Hallelujah which gains new meaning and power.

The angelic female backing vocals - a Cohen trademark - are provided by Charley and Hattie Webb and Sharon Robinson who duets with Cohen on the aforementioned In My Secret Life and takes lead on the smoky Boogie Street with its eloquent sax. Exquisite throughout, these vocals bring significant depth to Take This Waltz, Tower of Song, Anthem and the prayer If It Be Your Will. The greater number of songs come from Cohen's post-1970s work, from albums like I'm Your Man, Various Positions, The Future and Ten New Songs. The latest studio album Dear Heather and the 1970s recordings Songs of Love & Hate and Death Of A Ladies Man are not represented at all whilst 1979's Recent Songs contributes only The Gypsy's Wife.

New fans and Cohen completists might wish to investigate Field Commander Cohen, recorded in 1979 and released in 2000, which contains excellent live versions of compositions from Recent Songs and New Skin for the Old Ceremony as well as the track Memories from Death of a Ladies' Man. For an artist with such a long career, relatively few live albums were released; tribute albums seem to outnumber the live ones! In its warmth and humanity, this album couldn't be more different from 1973's Live Songs, an impressive but overall cold and often harrowing recording. Live In London concludes with Whither Thou Goest, a moving blessing from the Book of Ruth. This extraordinary recording is a perfect blend of presence, voices and playing of the highest caliber. Besides the track listing, musicians, instruments and credits, the CD booklet provides full-color photographs and notes by John Aizlewood.

Before the Poison
Before the Poison

4.0 out of 5 stars Dirges & Lamentations, 23 May 2009
This review is from: Before the Poison (Audio CD)
In Marianne's book Memories, Dreams and Reflections, the chapter Mind Movies discusses the songs & musicians on this album where she collaborates extensively with PJ Harvey and Nick Cave. There are three Harvey covers: Mystery Of Love, My Friends Have and No Child Of Mine, whilst the title track and In The Factory are co-written by them with Marianne contributing lyrics. Nick Cave features as music composer on Crazy Love, There Is A Ghost and Desperanto.

The style varies from the percussive guitar rock of My Friends Have and the tuneful pop ballad Crazy Love with its lovely piano & violins to the bluesy dirge for England titled Last Song and the slow mournful rock of No Child Of Mine with its complex and stirring vocal interplay. The title track was inspired by the 1995 Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway by a doomsday cult; it's so gloomy it would have made Nico of the Velvet Underground proud.

Equally mournful, the lamentation There Is A Ghost with its melancholic piano against eerie synths commemorates all the millions slain. Although more obliquely expressed, it shares the theme of The Faith on Dear Heather by Leonard Cohen and The Ghost of You by Siouxsie & The Banshees. The nameless dead are forgotten by all but the Eternal Divine whose sorrow & anger are so well explained by Abraham Heschel in The Prophets.

In The Factory is a slab of slow brooding rock with great guitar work and a melancholy chorus, whilst the rhythmic and uptempo Desperanto rocks on in an atmospheric drone of guitars, synths and a male choir. The masterpiece of this album is the last track, City Of Quartz. An eerie poem with enchanting music box sounds, it deals with the narcissistic or psychopathic personality that considers human beings as objects to be used.

As an elegiac song cycle in which grief and sorrow find other-worldly expression, this recording is the complete opposite of its predecessor, the optimistic pop album Kissin' Time of 2002. I do not think Before The Poison is on the level of her classics like Vagabond Ways or the Island records trio Broken English, Dangerous Acquaintances and A Child's Adventure, but Faithfull's fans will appreciate it.

Kissin' Time [Explicit]
Kissin' Time [Explicit]

4.0 out of 5 stars At the cutting edge of the time, 23 May 2009
Marianne has always been an expert at bouncing back from obscurity, as with the legendary Broken English in the early 1980s. Kissin' Time sees Faithfull still at the cutting edge of pop with assistance by Beck, Billy Corgan, Dave Stewart, Jarvis Cocker, and Blur on the title track. In her book Memories, Dreams and Reflections, a short chapter is devoted to discussing the songs and the musicians on Kissin' Time. Marianne claims that the style was very deliberately 1960s retro as if it were the follow-up to her work of that decade. Not predominantly aotobiographical, the album happily celebrates love & life with a theme of fandom permeating it.

I have always associated Marianne with other famous blondes of the 1960s like Nico and Anita Pallenberg, so it's apt that she does a tribute to the Velvet Underground chanteuse with the expert help of Dave Stewart. This era produced another Nico tribute; compare the song with the same title on the album How I Loved You by Angels of Light. But I miss the emotional resonance and authenticity of 1999's Vagabond Ways. After the opening track, the ironic Sliding Through Life On Charm with its wry & witty biographical references - a song co-written with Jarvis Cocker - is the first that held my attention.

I also love the lilting pop/reggae tune Love & Money and her cover of Goffin & King's Something Good, which to my mind most closely resembles the type of innocent 60s pop she used to do at the start of her career. If it weren't for the voice of course, that has dropped to a more husky tone. My tracks of choice also includes Sex With Strangers with its ironic comments and edgy beat. So this album is the 2004 manifestation of Marianne reinventing herself, and it's interesting but not always emotionally gripping and memorable. Still, Kissin' Time deserves four stars for musical variety and humour.

Understanding Muhammad
Understanding Muhammad
by Ali Sina
Edition: Paperback

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The founder and the faithful, 13 May 2009
This review is from: Understanding Muhammad (Paperback)
In this remarkably straightforward book Sina investigates the moral psychology of Islam's founder as revealed in traditional sources like the work of Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Said, Al-Bukhari and the Hadith & Sira literature in order to reconstruct the personality of the prophet. He shows how the mind and behavior of its founder have shaped the religion to the present day. To understand the followers, one must understand the teacher. Each of the chapters examines some facet of his life and teaching.

Sina argues that monotheism was not the original message; it was that he had been appointed as divine messenger and that people had to believe him. Sina considers Allah & his prophet as the same personality. The commonsensical distinction between good and evil was replaced by the concepts halal (permitted) and haraam (forbidden) so that the ends always justify the means. In the Medina phase, his followers turned violent by committing assassinations to foster a climate of terror. That is the same modus operandi employed today. Terrorists follow this example by seeking supremacy through terror. There is no doubt in the minds of the perpetrators that the strategy works.

Due to the precedents set by the founder and his ideological heirs, extremists believe that terror tactics will prevail everywhere. Before and during World War II, the Mufti of Jerusalem was a supporter of Hitler. Afterwards, many Middle Eastern regimes aligned themselves with the USSR. Later, the Italian translator and the Norwegian editor of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses survived assassination attempts whilst the Japanese translator and the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh were less lucky. All totalitarianisms thrive on the Big Lie. Sina provides an arresting explanation of the big lie and the reasons why it so often succeeds.

Just as absorbing are his diagnoses of illnesses like narcissistic personality disorder, temporal lobe epilepsy, obsessive compulsive disorder and acromegaly which is caused by excessive production of a growth hormone. The author explains why this combination of afflictions was taken as signs of prophethood and how it reflects the nature of the movement. With reference to figures like Jim Jones, Sina highlights the cultic nature of the new faith. Everything in Eric Hoffer's True Believer confirms this conclusion.

These days many staunch defenders of the West like Ibn Warraq, Brigitte Gabriel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali & Wafa Sultan come from Asia or Africa, while many western Leftists collaborate with the enemy as Jamie Glazov proves so convincingly in United in Hate. Dismissing the hope of reform since violent conquest & contempt for non-believers remain at the core, Sina claims that this notion of reform derives from a false analogy with Christianity. The deceptions of multiculturalism and political correctness promoted by western academics like Karen Armstrong and John Esposito are undermining the reality of the threat and the will to resist.

Like Ibn Warraq, Sina argues that the Enlightenment, Renaissance and democracy are the foundations of civilization that need to be preserved. The Western one is a culture whilst the other is a cult. The rule of law, individual liberty and freedom of expression are under assault by a resurgence of the irrational and barbaric. The hour is late and the peril is ignored or denied by western leaders, the media and the intelligentsia. Other informative books on the matter include They Must Be Stopped by Brigitte Gabriel, Cruel And Usual Punishment by Nonie Darwish and the work of Robert Spencer.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 1, 2011 7:38 AM BST

Ecstatic Kabbalah
Ecstatic Kabbalah
by David A. Cooper
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple & effective devotional practices, 1 May 2009
This review is from: Ecstatic Kabbalah (Hardcover)
The aim of this learning programme is personal spiritual development for bringing the learner closer to the Divine. It consists of a guide book and CD; the emphasis is on teaching through experience rather than written words. The author makes it clear that following a spiritual path is a way of life rather than a goal to be achieved. The 'Ecstasy' of the title refers to vocal, breathing & visualization techniques with the potential of raising one's everyday consciousness to a higher level. Refining one's nature includes cultivating empathy, forgiveness and tenderness. In chapter two he explains the intention of these practices to promote serenity, clarity and peace of mind; this chapter also illumines concepts like the Tree of Life, the Sefirot, the Chakras & meditative exercises. The background to Track One of the CD: Meditation on Harmony, is provided here. This chant consists of five vowel sounds, each of which is associated with a specific chakra.

The great mystic Abraham Abulafia lived in 13th century Spain, the country that was home to amongst others the great philosopher of reason Maimonides and Solomon ibn Gabirol who wrote such sublime devotional poetry. Abulafia, who was nearly forgotten until Gershom Scholem rescued his work from obscurity, developed a specific system of contemplative practice based on Hebrew letters, words & sounds. Chapter three concludes with a fascinating look at the structure or levels of the soul and the function of the Pure Soul Mantra (Neshama) which is Track Two. The next chapter provides an overview of Abulafia's contemplative practices with detailed exposition on certain sounds & their associated head movements as well as the Shiviti Chant.

The concept of 'boundlessness' underlies the Names of the Divine which Rabbi Cooper explores in great detail. These include 'El' and its many variations & combinations, the Tetragrammaton, the Shekhina and all the others that are found in the Talmud. The chant of Ahavat Olam, a mantra celebrating love without measure, is elucidated. Invoking the Presence is achieved by breathing & visualization practices as demonstrated on Track Seven. In chapter eight, the author deals with the concept of expanded consciousness as reflected in the Magic Mirror Exercise and the Shema (Track Nine). The Shema is analyzed with reference to its individual sounds, its meaning of unity & its purpose of emphasizing oneness.

The final chapter investigates the thirteen attributes of the Divine; it includes discussions of the terms 'tzaddik' (righteous) & 'tikkun' (restoration) and the work of Moses Cordovero. The Appendix provides further information on vocal & silent chanting and the various permutations of Abulafia's sound & breath practices. Illustrations of the Tree of Life, the top 5 Chakras on the human body, the levels of the soul, the aforementioned head movements & the letter Aleph enhance the text; the book concludes with a short note and bibliography of works by the author. The ten tracks on the CD are: Meditation on harmony/Elohai neshama/Abulafia basic chants/Abulafia doublets/Shiviti/Ahavat olam/Y-W meditation/Magic mirror exercise/Shema/The thirteen attributes.

I highly recommend Ecstatic Kabbalah for its clarity, accessibility and the particular issues it addresses. A similar helpful combination of book & CD in the Sanskrit tradition is Healing Mantras by Thomas Ashley-Farrand. Two thought-provoking works on music therapy & sound healing include Sacred Sounds by Ted Andrews and Healing Sounds by Jonathan Goldman whose albums Chakra Chants, Ultimate Om and Holy Harmony are masterpieces of sacred healing sound.

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