Music Reviews

Lama Gyurme and Jean-Philippe Rykiel

Rain of Blessings: Vajra Chants

Real World / Narada

In both Eastern and Western traditions, chant is one of the purest and most beautiful forms of sacred music. Somewhere between incantation and song, chant bewitches the listener with its beauty even as it uplifts their spirit with its purity and clarity. Rain Of Blessings presents Tibetan Buddhist chants sung by Lama Gyurme together with keyboards by Jean-Philippe Rykiel. Gyurme’s voice here is truly magical, ranging from a guttural rumble that could make mountains tremble to a higher, gentle tone that bathes everything it touches with radiant white light.

When Gyurme’s voice is in the foreground, Rain Of Blessings truly lives up to its title. “Medicine Buddha Mantra,” for example, offers a prayer to heal the sick, with Gyurme’s beautiful voice supported by quiet synths and the harp-like meditative notes of a kora cascading down. “Sacred Words of Liberation” has a darker feel, with brooding keyboards and Tibetan percussion guided by the dark undercurrents of Gyurme’s gravelly mantras, intended to purify the self of suffering from past lives.

But when the synth takes center stage, this CD feels less like a blessing and more like a curse. The opening “Rain of Blessings,” for instance, has some awesome vocals from Gyurme, but they are almost completely overshadowed by Vangelis-like, syrupy-sweet crystalline keyboards. And “Offering Chant” suffers from some nasty guitar-imitating synth noodling in the middle. Thankfully, there’s an “unplugged” version of “Offering Chant” that ends the album, and it’s gorgeous, with Gyurme’s voice and the acoustic piano blending seamlessly to give a feeling of infinite acceptance and love, clearing the mind and offering peace to the soul.

Real World c/o Narada, 4650 N. Port Washington Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53212-1063, http://realworld.on.net/rwr/


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