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World Music CD Reviews Asia & Far East

THE GYUTO MONKS TANTRIC CHOIR

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published February 17, 2006

The Perfect Jewel: Sacred Chants of Tibet
Rykodisc

The very idea of recording chants as a form of prayer rather than as art or entertainment would seem to impose a different slant on both the marketers' and the reviewers' tasks. On the other hand, The Perfect Jewel, which was produced by the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart, is also partly a commercial venture, being on a well-known label. This is as it should be since renown in this case is unlikely to bring any of the usual trappings of stardom and wider availability could even contribute to our collective spiritual well being. Besides, profits from the recording benefit a couple of Gyuto organizations. The 11 Buddhist monks even resorted to overdubbing their own chanting on parts of the recording. Deep multiphonic chanting of this kind, which goes back half a millennium, is among the most amazing and timeless of vocal sounds. The Perfect Jewel contains excerpts from the Choir's most important chants, with the sound quality being an improvement over David Lewiston's acclaimed Gyutu recordings from the early ’70s.