November 2008

The Gyuto Monks Tantric Choir - Tibetan Chants for World Peace
White Swan Records WS 0086
Format: CD
Release: 2008

by Shannon Holliday

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

It is said that peace comes from within, and in the case of the low, guttural chants of the Gyuto Tibetan monks, indeed it does, emanating from the enlightened Buddhists' stomachs, hearts and souls. Tibetan Chants for World Peace was recorded by Grateful Dead drummer and ethnomusicologist Mickey Hart with the intention of sharing the powerful, sacred chants of these monks with the Western world. More in meditation than music-making, the monks see their chanting as an offering to the deities, a harmonic appeal for world peace and the increased enlightenment and salvation of all beings. Before being allowed to perform the chants aloud, the monks must first study the technique for years. This recording features some chants that have never before been heard outside the 600-year old Gyotu Monastery.

While recording, Hart proposed multi-tracking the voices of the 14 monks he had brought to the studio in order to replicate the sound of a full choir as would be heard within the monastery walls. The effect is a cacophony of sound, enveloping and cascading, sustaining each note like a ripple on a lake. Some of the tracks are a capella, while others incorporate dungchen (long horns), cymbals, bells, and drums. The final track, "Great Sacred Music," is performed only once a year in the monastery and for the holiest of ceremonies.

This disc allows you to close your eyes while allowing this music to wash over you and be instantly transported high in the Himalayas. Open your heart while listening to each syllable and feel the true possibility of world peace being summoned by sound.