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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
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+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
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44.1 kHz Archive

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Various Artists
Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
Sub Rosa

After signs lose touch with the signified, and after the industrial era is surpassed by a code-governing phase where the predominant schema is simulation, folk songs such as these, harvested by ethnomusicologist John Levy during his journey through Bhutan in the '70s, penetrate the air like an echo from another world.

While the first edition in this marvelous series focused on pensive, ceremonious drones, this volume concerns itself with the raw, unabashed voices of monks, young shepherd girls, and other lay people, nestling them inside arrangements that are sometimes ornate, sometimes skeletal, and often luminescent. Music as a social organization of symbolic meaning is the clear focus. As the extensive linear notes make plain, each piece is steeped in heritage. "Ura Gi Ache Lham," for instance, is traditionally sung by women from Ura, a valley in the Bumthang District, who venture atop a local mountaintop each year to sing this very song.

The instruments, too, are no longer simply objects. The Bhutanese dramnyen (a seven-string guitar), for example, looks like a pregnant woman, and is generally referred to as the sea monster. The design scrawled across its bloated belly is also the emblem of Kamadeva, the god of love. Time has overtaken the form of the instrument, making it a solidified substance imbued with a certain sort of spirit.

All of this serves to present a labyrinth of fascinating avenues to explore. Once again, John Levy does as much as he can to remove himself from the proceedings. What emerges is rather bluesy guitar lines, fiddles moving forward at a sometimes measured, sometimes delirious pace, and a bevy of melodious, whistling flutes and lutes. At times the arrangements are densely woven, with woody dramnyen notes coiling and snapping around a wobbly rhythm section that stutters, stops, and changes pace on several occasions. At other moments, however, the dramnyen is cleaner, the woodblock clatter a more haunting tangle of splintered chirps and clanking knocks, and the voices lapse into a grave, almost distressed chorus of moaning.

The compositions constantly upset, accentuate, and elaborate on each other; the wraiths of flute and sprightly choral vocals curl like smoke, crafting an elaborate web to yoke together rituals and people otherwise isolated and devoid of meaning.

by Max Schaefer

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