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Various Artists: Temenos (Soundtrack)

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Vocalists Sainkho Namchylak, Shelley Hirsch, and Catherine Bott contribute to the soundtrack of Nina Danino's film Temenos. While I haven't seen the film (the title means "Sacred Site"), it apparently presents landscapes surrounding places where the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared. (Three essays in the liner notes wax poetic on the subject, offering little in terms of information—and an overwhelming level of obtuse abstraction.)

Listening to Temenos, one could not imagine a more surreal aural experience. In fact, I found it somewhat toxic. Outside the context of the film, the huge diversity of man-made (or, should I say, woman-made) sounds provides a disorienting backdrop to the spoken word narration of the producer. Take, for example, the eighth segment, "The Virgin's Hollow." Sainkho Namchylak serves up an impressive mixture of calls, creatures, calling song, children, humming, nature, bees, wind, insects, and heat. (And that's just a laundry list lifted straight from the credits; I'm still trying to grasp the heat concept.)

Unfortunately, the spoken word portions offer little with regard to clues: they simply provide sparse, intermittent distraction from the rest of the noises on the soundtrack. One might argue that the overt simplicity of the spoken word segments on Temenos might represent a conscious rebellion against what we know as lyricism and poetry. But it's really far simpler to state that these passages just don't convey any sense of artistry, either in the choice of words or in their delivery. If you want to try making sense of Temenos, I would suggest seeing the film and experiencing the soundtrack in context. Otherwise, the disc on its own is really quite painful and pointless.


Track Listing: Opening; The Virgin's Time; The Virgin's Clearing; The Virgin's Hollow (echo-memoire); Spring Grotto; The Virgin's Passage; The Virgin's Weeping; The Virgin's Hollow; First Memoir; Second Memoir; Third Memoir; Archiropoiete; The Virgin's Calling; The Rosebush; Fourth Memoir; Temenos; Houwa at the Site of the Apparition; The Descent of Aquero; Soho Square; The Virgin's Time; La Fin; Epilogue.

Personnel: Sainkho Namchylak: nature, virgin, vocal landscapes; Shelley Hirsch: States, Visionaries, and Voices; Catherine Bott: soprano; Nina Danino: spoken voice; Pavlo Beznosiuk: Vielles.

Title: Temenos (Soundtrack) | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Leo Records


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