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The Contemporary Sound of Ancient Chanting,
This review is from: CHOYING DROLMA & STEVE TIBBERTS/SELWA (Audio CD)
"Selwa" is the second stunning collaboration between Steve Tibbets and Choyin Drolma, and the long wait many of us endured -their first CD came out in 1997- has certainly been justified.
To many of you, Tibbets may be far from a new name. Along with Marc Ribot and Bill Frisell, he belongs to a generation of virtuoso guitar players who have expanded their Jazz roots by incorporating a number of genres, to create distinct and impressive personal styles. Where Ribot explored Cuban music and improvisation, and Frisell -well, Frisell has explored almost everything successfully- Mr. Tibbets concentrated on studying Eastern forms and mining certain possibilities of Electronica into a very singular identity.
His ECM catalog -where he's recorded most of his solo work- shows the depth of his playing and compositional prowess, a musical vision that fits perfectly this Tibetan sacred music
Choyin Drolma, unlike Tibbets, is not primarily a musician in the traditional sense of the word. Since she was very young, she has been a Tibetan-Buddhist nun pursuing chanting as a form of spiritual practice.
This album, very much as their first collaboration, sees Tibbets providing traditional chants sung by Drolma, with a subtle and evocative palette of sounds where guitars, loops and percussion -played here by his longtime collaborator Marc Anderson- add haunting and meaningful sound layers to Drolma's voice.
The results are stunning, whether you have ever been interested in Eastern religions, contemplative music or meditation, you may find playing this album on "repeat" and being infused by its calm wisdom.
Yet, for those people who are not familiar with anything I mentioned as their interests, this album -it has been my personal experience-is likely to move you, to seep into your mood and flood you with images you may have not recalled in years.
Like "Cho" -their first album- the quiet intensity of this album's melodies is remarkable, fierce and peaceful at once, and always honoring of its ancient melodies. Unlike the former, "Selwa" finds Tibbets expanding his musical contribution although never imposing himself on the sacred nature of the chants.
All in all, "Selwa" is as moving and likely to transport you to some essential region of contemplation on yourself and the deep beauty of what's surrounding you right now, whether it's a tomato plant bending under the weight of ripe offerings, a dog playing with a tattered ball or the rhythms of car horns in heavy traffic. This an unusual yet fitting example of the best music that came out this year.