Part of the appeal of listening to world music is the hope that the sounds can take you away from your mundane and humdrum daily life and give you a sense of being somewhere magic and wonderful.
Of course, that can also make it a little bit inaccessible, especially the parts of it that are dominated by the guttural overtone style of throat singing, so a Western audience often needs someone to filter it a little before they can enjoy it.
That’s what Chants: The Spirit Of Tibet aims to do, with Youth and The Orb both involved and layering on levels of electronic production that swirl around the age-old chanting and make it all feel like an Enigma album.
Whether you consider that a good or a bad thing is dependent on whether you like Enigma or not, but don’t run away if you fall into the latter category, because there is more going on than that.
For one thing, Youth is an excellent producer with some great work behind him, and the soundscapes he creates here are pretty special, all recorded in Dharamsala for that edge of authenticity. Apparently it was using some fancy technology to create a 3D soundscape. Maybe with better headphones than mine…
So Chants comes across like a blend of two worlds, Western electronic music and Eastern religious mysticism, and it generally works very well. There’s times when you start to forget the monks are even there, especially on longer tracks like Compasion Beat and Renewal, but they’re never dull.
The Monks are performing at Glastonbury this month, with the album timed to sell to new fans when they’ve got home and washed the mud off, and it’s perfect for that particularly audience. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s a soothing, spiritual journey nonetheless and while it’s not my favourite collection of Buddhist chanting, it’s still a worthwhile release.