Genre/Influences: Ritual, experimental.
Background/Info: Phurpa is a Russian collective inspired and driven by the ritual music of BON, which is the oldest Buddhist tradition of Tibet. Phurpa has released an impressive number of productions on a wide range of labels. “Gyer Ro” is double disc featuring 4 compositions.
Content: I had the opportunity travelling through Tibet, visiting numerous Buddhist temples and even assisting at some ceremonies. “Gyer Ro” fully evokes this particular atmosphere from the temples. Phurpa sounds totally devoted to ritual music, in a way reproducing the sphere of mantras performed with these unique, buzzing and throated vocals.
Another main characteristic of Phurpa –and an essential element, is the use of authentic instruments like cymbals, and different kind of horns etc.
The first disc features one single and long duration piece (of 78”) while the second disc features 3 cuts. The sound and format both remain the same, inviting the listener to visit a ritual, mysterious and dark universe.
+ + + : I’m particularly touched by the sound universe created by Phurpa, which reminds me of the atmosphere of the Tibetan temples. This is an original and somewhat different approach in music, which will catch the attention of the dark-ambient and ritual music lovers. It’s a sound and composition you’ll easily keep in mind. You can feel the passion of Phurpa, which has been transposed in their oeuvre. The use of authentic instruments reinforces the strong visual appeal of this work. I’m just missing the particular smell hanging in the temples to really get the impression of being there.
– – – : Despite of my enthusiasm for the concept, “Gyer Ro” is not exactly an easy listening work. The sonic mantras are quite monotonous and especially focused on the magic of the vocals. This album rapidly appears to be a real challenge, which you will either like, or not like. There’s no real way in between. I think I would have liked it if using more instruments and less vocal parts.
Conclusion: Phurpa invites you to join in for a spiritual trip to the highest tops of the world accompanied by ritual chants. I like the concept, but the result couldn’t fully convince me!
Best songs: “Mu-Ye”.