Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Muslimgauze on Metafilter

The veiled sound of a secretive world

Muslimgauze was the sound of an angry Middle East, a prolific source of music dark, spacious and smothering. Tension was a constant theme not only in the music but in the packaging. (For example, Betrayal shows the hands of Yassir Arafat and Yitzak Rabin, and guns, knives, and news photos of an Arab world at war were a common motif in titles and sleeve art.) However, the music wasn't the usual agitprop fare: Music meant to rile a public to a cause isn't normally pigeonholed as ambient, electronica or musique concrete. But the band, hidden from public view, was rumored to donate proceeds to Palestinian terrorists, and that they were eventually silenced by Mossad. Despite the prodigious output -- issuing almost a hundred EPs and albums between 1983 and 1998, over a hundred more since -- limited distribution and perpetual obscurity ensured the rumors were easier to find than the music. While the facts about Muslimgauze have little in common with the fictions, they are, if anything, stranger...

CD: Youssoupha Sidibe (kora)

Kora Master in the Spirit

Youssoupha Sidibe

Xelcom (Self-released, 2008)

Senegal’s Youssoupha Sidibe has played his kora (21-stringed West African harp) alongside artists as varied as Matisyahu, Bela Fleck, India Arie and Midnite, but on this meditative release he’s put aside crossovers and dug deep into his African roots. Xelcom consists of six lengthy tracks on which the kora typically establishes a softly attention-grabbing tone before settling into swaying riffs joined by Sidibe’s hushed but from-the-gut singing and occasional percussion.

Each song is one of praise, specifically from a Sufi devotional perspective as practiced by the members of Baay Fall, a mystical Senegalese sect dedicated to farming, community service and ever-greater connection with the Creator. The virtues of love, goodness and work are extolled, and the medicinal way the music gets under your skin makes you believe that such qualities can indeed make a difference.

All the vocal and instrumental sounds heard here are those of Sidibe, who’s not looking to blow anyone away with his kora virtuosity though it’s clear he could do so. Rather, he’s made a stripped-down album of spiritual music close to his own heart and likely to create a stirring in yours. Heavenly.

Buy the CD:

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Old footage of Tibetan lamas and yogis

Historic, beautiful and interesting footage of Tibetan lamas and yogis teaching Buddhism, just 4 years after their escape from Tibet, when the Chinese invaded in 1959. "In 1963, for the first time, the Dalai Lama allowed a Westerner, Desjardins, to film the heart of the Tibetan tradition." Some meditation instruction taught by yogis: Tantra as practiced in Tibet, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Lerab's Youtube channel has all kinds of video gems for those interested in Buddhist and Hindu spiritual practice.
Buddhism and Tantrism: "two films were originally shown on French television in the 1960's and are a wonderful testimony, revealing some of Tibet's foremost masters as they were then. It includes footage of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, the Sixteenth Karmapa, Dudjom Rinpoche, Ling Rinpoche, Chatral Rinpoche, Sakya Trizin, and the yogis Abo Rinpoche and Lopon Sonam Zangpo. The original sixties commentaries have been retained, even though it may sound a bit dated in places." "There are unusual scenes of yogis performing preparatory meditation exercises."

About Arnaud Desjardins, born 18 June 1925. Books he's written.

Also on Lerab's YouTube channel:

The Tibetan Book of the Dead #1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

From Lerab's blog:
"A Short History of Bön - Extracted from the pamphlet "Tibetan gYung-Drung Bön Monastery in India," published by the Yungdrung Bön Monastic Center, Solan, 1983. Translated by Tadeusz Skorupski."