Various Streets of Lhasa

Most, if not all recordings that document the expressions of people from other lands tend to be fairly academic in their intent, documentation and presentation. The scholarly notes, groupings of music, or samples of lifestyle and the graphics of the liner notes themselves tend to project the serious undertaking that was involved with the project. This couldn’t be further from the direction that this and the companion CD (Harmika Yab Yum: Folk Sounds From Nepal) take. What you get here are recordings made by a member of a Chinese music and art collective (fm3) on a road trip through Nepal and strolling into Lhasa, Tibet with a MiniDisc recorder and collecting wandering musicians to play in various ensembles. There are also sounds of the street and trains that make the overall effect of the CD more like the hominess of the Alan Lomax American roots recordings from the ’30s than the ethno-musicological recordings of, say Ethnic Folkways. This is not to say that one is better than the other, because in both, the quality of the content is the final authority, but this recording and its bright and blazing graphics, makes me feel more like I’m there on a backpack vacation than there on a government grant. Cool stuff. (Sublime Frequencies)