Yungchen Lhamo

2006: Real World/Virgin CDRW132

  1. Ranzen
  2. Gebu Shere
  3. Om Mani Padme Hung
  4. Tara
  5. 9/11
  6. Look Down On Us
  7. Nyebe Nilam
  8. Someday
  9. Fade Away
  10. Lhasa

A beautiful album of flute-voices.

I was curious to hear what Annie Lennox’s collaboration (on “Fade Away”) would be like given this milieu very different from her already diverse range, and I was far from disappointed: the track was lovely and dark with a need for peace when suddenly there was Annie’s chant of “may you rest your head in peace and stillness….” Instant gooseflesh and a wave of chills rippled the entire length of my spine as her vocals unwound into arabesques which then intertwined with Lhamo’s own angelic flourishes. It made a fine followup to the almost painfully pure tones of “Someday,” which both precedes and prefaces it. A later listening to “Fade Away” reminded me of the album Jan Garbarek did in collaboration with the Hilliard Ensemble, a CD I once owned but let go when I’d moved on to the source material (the “Missa Defunctorum”) which I preferred for its unornamented beauty; Lennox’s voice here is less of a superimposition than Garbarek’s sax and more of a primal/Arabic fluid element.

It was also a treat to hear Joy Askew’s voice again—I hadn’t heard what she’s been up to and certainly didn’t anticipate this interesting pairing, although given her connection with Peter Gabriel I suppose I should have anticipated that she’d appear in a RealWorld recording sooner or later.

Curiously, it reads completely differently when heard on headphones. The impressions are much more internally focused and arrayed than when heard on a speaker-based stereoscope. The difference is that of being *within* the flute (or being the flute player at least) as opposed to hearing the flute being played. Also the softer elements such as the English words spoken in “9/11” aren’t lost in the intense clarity of the focal tones.

Actually in retrospect I’m surprised there isn’t a collaboration with Laurie Anderson here, especially that “9/11” wasn’t one. I wonder if the two have met…there’s some potentially rich territory to be considered there.