144

Ch: Selwa

Chris M. Slawecki By

Sign in to view read count
Ch: Selwa Like Chö, the first collaboration between Chöying Drolma and Steve Tibbetts (in 1997), Selwa honors the sacred music of North and South Asia and delivers a profound example of the modern music world as a global village. It showcases recordings of Buddhist nun Chöying Drolma made by percussionist Marc Anderson and guitarist Steve Tibbetts, both from Minnesota, at a Tibetan Buddhist enclave in the Himalayan country of Nepal. Anderson and Tibbetts returned to Minnesota to huddle with Lee Townsend, producer for such star guitarists as Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Charlie Hunter, John Abercrombie, and the guitar ensemble T.J. Kirk. The three then wove enchanted percussion and guitar instrumentation around Drolma's chanted prayers and supplications.

Townsend's help proves no small touch. His multi-tracking the vocals in "Song of Realization" makes them seem to intertwine, to strive onward and upward like mythical vines growing toward the sun. Resonant echo on her voice makes "Yumchen Tukar" feel even more reverent.

Selwa is ethereal, evocative, and breathtakingly beautiful. Tibbetts and Anderson seem to intuitively understand how to accompany Drolma's voice, building in "Paiden Rangjung," for example, a mountain of percussion and guitar from which Drolma's vocal steps right off the crest into pure nothing.

The spacious instrumental introduction to "Mandala Offering," where guitar waterfalls splash against thumping percussion and shimmering cymbals—appearing, disappearing, then reappearing—is beautiful and inscrutable, pastoral Pat Metheny taken to the abstract. Tibbetts and Anderson also somehow intuit the ebbs and flows of the centerpiece "Song of Realization." Drolma completely dissolves herself in this hymn to the point where you cannot distinguish between singer and song.

"Vakritunda" is the most rhythmically active piece, with Drolma's phrasing sometimes suggesting a Middle Eastern dervish and Tibbetts moaning the blues—perhaps in different tones, but with the familiar spirit of blue heartache. Drolma's voice soars and floats through "Chenrezi" and "Chendren" as the very picture of a white dove in a pure blue sky, and there's no more fitting way to end this set than the unaccompanied vocal "Je Loma"—alone with that voice in the hallowed chapel of her soul.

Listening to Selwa always makes me feel so quiet and still. And very, very small.


Track Listing: Padmakara; Palden Rangjung; Vakritunda; Kyamdro Semkye; Gayatri; Song of Realization; Yumchen Tukar; Mandala Offering; Chenrezi; Chendren; Je Lama

Personnel: Ch

Title: Selwa | Year Released: 2005


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Second Act CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Imaga Mondo CD/LP/Track Review Imaga Mondo
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Port Of Call CD/LP/Track Review Port Of Call
by John Sharpe
Published: August 23, 2017
Read May I Introduce To You CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "Begin to Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Begin to Dance
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "No Secrets No Lies" CD/LP/Track Review No Secrets No Lies
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Crop Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Crop Circles
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Streams" CD/LP/Track Review Streams
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "The Eighth Hour Of Amduat" CD/LP/Track Review The Eighth Hour Of Amduat
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Imaginist" CD/LP/Track Review Imaginist
by Mike Jacobs
Published: December 1, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.