Lian Ensemble and Chirgilchin Ensemble
The Window (Lian Records, 2010)
The collaboration of the traditional Persian and Sufi group Lian Ensemble with the Buddhist and Tuvan throat singing group Chirgilchin Ensemble came about in 2008 when Houman Pourmehdi, member of the Lian Ensemble, was asked to arrange a piece for the World Festival of Sacred Music opening gala by the director of UCLA’s Center for Intercultural Performance. That resulting composition and performance made way for yet another collaboration and the recording The Window, set for release in May on the Lian Records label. To long time fans of both groups, as well as new converts, The Window is stunningly powerful, a bit like dipping the fingers into pure exoticism.
Pooling the talents of Lian Ensemble’s tar player Pirayeh Pouafar, kamancheh player Mani Boluri and vocalist, udu and frame drummer Houman Pourmahdi and Chirgichin Ensemble’s vocalist, igil and doshpoulour player Igor Koshkendey, vocalist, byzaanchi, igil and doshpoulour player Aldar Tamdyn, vocalist, igil and doshpoulour player Mongun-ool Ondar and vocalist Aidysmaa Koshkendey proves to be a potent combination.
The lute-like tar against the varying fiddle layers made of kamancheh, igil and byzaanchy, the doshpoulour, a banjo instrument and Mr. Pourmehdi’s unfailingly rich rhythms wrapped around a changing soundscape of vocals and throat singing evolve into a sound that is simply intoxicating, as if it bubbled up from some sacred pool.
Divided into four extended tracks, “There is Naught,” “Longing for You,” “The Rule of the Lover” and “The Basis of Creation,” The Window strives for a kind of Sufi transcendental, cooled by the deep waters of a Buddhist, Shamanistic rooted earthiness. The effect is exotic, ethereal, thrilling, eerie and haunting all at the same time. “There is Naught” and “Longing for You” edge toward a more meditative Persian sound, while “The Rule of the Lover” romps across the landscape like a runaway pony with the Chirgichin Ensemble singers shining bright.
My personal favorite is the last track, “The Basis of Creation,” with its long, elegant opening string lines and vocals from both groups that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck with their sheer loveliness.
The Window is an astonishing, brilliant collaboration, showcasing the prodigious talents of both the Lian and Chirgilchin Ensembles. It is a meditative space with the musical windows flung wide open.
Buy The Window
Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.