Album Review

Streets of Lhasa [coll] – [Sublime Frequencies]

Max Level   1/6/2006   CD, International

Another ear-opening world music/sound collection from Sublime Frequencies (may they never run out of remote people and places to document!). This time we’re in a town in the mountains of Tibet, with vocals, instrumentals, and field recordings. Featured are the erhu, a 2-stringed Chinese violin, and the san xian, a long-necked 3-stringed relative of the guitar. The track titles generally tell us what to expect (“Father/Son Vocal with Erhu”, “Streets Of Lhasa”, etc.). The longest track, #10, is a field recording, described as a group of monks conversing but to me sounding far rowdier; I was picturing a drunken, high-energy card game or something. I also don’t quite get #13, which is titled “Train” but sounds more like a stuck record. Whether one understands what’s going on or not, everything here is well worth a listen. Speaking of that father/son duet, you’ve gotta hear this 3-year old boy singing (#1 & #11)? no cute kiddie warbling, this child brings it, belting it out with unbelievable conviction. #19 is a 9-minute field recording with soft singing and bird sounds. A pleasant way to end our visit.

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