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Dhamma Gita: Music of Young Practitioners Inspired by the Dhamma (CD)

Dhamma Gita: Music of Young Practitioners Inspired by the Dhamma (CD)

From a review at wildmind.org.

Overall, this is a wonderful CD. I was delighted by the variety of musical styles on Dhamma Gita, and also by the overall high quality. I'd urge you to buy the CD in order to help support the work that these young musicians are doing in forging an alchemy of modern music and Dharma practice.

Here are the tracks individually, with my personal assessments, and with the ratings I gave each in iTunes.

***** David Smith, "White Lines." This is a country-inspired song, with raspy vocals, sparkling guitar work, driving rhythms, and a catchy tune.

Listen to a sample of White Lines

****** Tori Heller, "Sut Nam." The song title suggests something eastern-inspired, but it's actually a thoroughly western track (which would probably be classified as "adult alternative") with Heller's soft, breathy vocals over delicate, plucked folk guitar. It's a beautiful, evocative, and sensitive piece of music.

Listen to a sample of Sut Nam

**** Ravenna Michalsen, "Ki Ki So So." Ravenna brings to this track the sensitivity of the classical trained musician she once was. The song's in two distinct halves. In the first we have pulsing, rhythmic, multi-tracked chanting that's meant to evoke the drumming of the Windhorse's hooves, overlaid with singing that's reminiscent of gregorian chant. Half-way through the song, this fades out and is replaced with a chant of "I ride on your wind," which is more like contemporary classical music.

Listen to a sample of Ki Ki So So

***** Travis Callison, "Witness." Witness is a hip-hop ballad with richly-textured rhythms and melodies. Travis names, or bears witness to, the pain and blessings of life, while the simple chorus "Bear witness," adds spiritual depth, evoking how equanimity can absorb both the ups and downs of life, while still holding the desire that all beings be well and happy.

Listen to a sample of Witness

** Michaela Lucas, "Faith." This is technically accomplished. The musicianship cannot be faulted. Michaela has a beautiful voice. But the interspersing of Sogyal Rinpoche eulogizing the Tibetan saint Milarepa, with Michaela's soaring vocals reminded me of modern Catholic church music, and I found the effect cloying.

**** Jay Harper, "Lu Chan Cha." My first thought on hearing this track was "Chinese film music." (And that's not a put-down). Lu Chan Cha is an effective blend of far-eastern and western instrumentation and musical styles. And in fact Jay Harper turns out to have a history of composing for full songs and instrumentals for TV and film.

***** Brad Gibson, "Bedtime waltz." Bedtime Waltz is an exquisitely beautiful jazz trio, with piano, drums, and bass. It's mellow, atmospheric, refined, and perfectly wrought a little gem, worth of becoming a standard.

*** Heather Maloney, "Let it Ache." This is song in the folk tradition, with passionate vocals and some rather fine guitar work, and with the message "If your heart is aching, let it ache." Unfortunately this was not my cup of tea, but if you're into contemporary folk you might well love this.

**** Lelo Roy, "Hello Mister June Bug." this is a quirky little number, almost like a children's song. Appropriately, it's about the simplicity and innocence of sitting in a tree as a child, and relating to the natural world (and especially the eponymous Mister June Bug) with fascination and imagination.

*** Duncan Ros, "Rabbit Horns." This is a raucus, playful alternative rock song, "making fun of ego clinging because 'I' does not exist," like phantom rabbit horns. I didn't find it very satisfying, partly because the theme of the phantom self doesn't work too well in a rock song, and partly because I thought the music lacked subtlety.

**** Eva Mohn, "Matters How You Pray." Mohn is a dancer and musician living in Germany, a fact I mention because I have trouble describing her style of music and so it's easier to say something about her. It is alternative folk? Adult alternative? It's certainly off-beat. The music itself, while repetitive, is richly textured and interesting, in an almost hypnotic way, and Mohn's vocal style is reminiscent of Ani Difranco.

** Monique Rhodes, "Lama Care For Me." This track begins with an African/spiritual sensitivity, with powerful devotional female vocals over male bass-line of Om Ah Hum. I began by thinking I was going to like the song, but once it moves into becoming a kind of romantic power ballad, worthy of Celine Dion, I found myself once again reminded of the contemporary music I've heard in Catholic churches.

***** Ladyfinger, "Yer Gonna Git You." Ladyfinger brings us the grittiness of a soul duet along the lines of "you done me wrong and now you got it comin' to you." This is a song about karma, with the repeated refrain "You've made your bed, you gonna lie in it."

**** Lucky Vita, "Swell." "Swell" is a literal, and rather simple, swell of synthesized sound, building to a crescendo and then fading away into the void. The composer describes is as "a sonic rendition of the feelings experienced when sinking into a place of deep stillness and simplicity." It's a pleasant sound.

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SKU CDN6499
 
Price: USD 14.95
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