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World Music CD Reviews South Asia

CHOYING DROLMA AND STEVE TIBBETTS

By Ranjit Arapurakal

Selwa
Six Degrees

The founder of The Nun's Welfare Foundation (1998) and The Arya Tara School for Nuns in Kathmandu (2000), Choying Drolma is not your typical Buddhist nun. In 1997, she collaborated with American guitarist Steve Tibbetts to record what would be their highly acclaimed debut, Cho. Seven years later, Drolma and Tibbetts, with the help of percussionist Marc Anderson, are back with their follow up, Selwa. The album flows like a peaceful slumber of deep dreams; Drolma's direct and earthy voice artfully framed by guitar sounds and analog percussion. The chants run the gamut from devotional to philosophical to playful, in Nepalese, Tibetan and Hindi, and Tibbetts' maturity shows in all the spaces he leaves unfilled, opting rather to approach the chants with reverence and humility. The songs "Vakritunda" and "Gayatri" are reminiscent of Hindu bhajans, or devotional songs, and manage to reflect Buddhism's roots in the subcontinent. "Song Of Realization," a nine-minute meditation on awareness, is the soft mossy anchor on this slowly drifting vessel.