Techung: Tibet; Lam La Che/On The Road (ARC Music)

 |   |  1 min read

Techung: Lam La Che (w Keb' Mo')
Techung: Tibet; Lam La Che/On The Road (ARC Music)

The Tibetan diaspora which has seen many flee the country since the Chinese occupation began over 60 years ago means in many countries there are second, third and fourth generation Tibetans who have never seen their homeland but who have an emotional and spiritual attachment to that remote country.

The politics of Tibet -- and Tibetan Buddhism which has also spread apace -- are highly complex and sensitive. The Chinese incursion and occupation is the least of it. You can get yourself into very difficult conversations when you suggest the land was far from some happy Shangri-La before the Chinese, or that the much revered Dalai Lama's adherents have, often unwittingly, advanced the notion there was just their one school of Buddhism in the country.

Techung is a Tibetan who -- like so many -- grew up in Dharamsala in India (where many thousand of refugees and exiles settled) but who has travelled widely and has lived in San Francisco since the Eighties, where he performs, teaches music and dance, and holds the banner of Tibet high.

After the opening piece recorded at a Tibetan Freedom Concert held in Taiwan in '08 (the aching, blues-like Let's Go Home sung partly in English) this album offers a fascinating collection of (mostly) instrumentals which range from folk tunes on traditional instruments (string and flute) to the title track with bluesman Keb' Mo' and a group and, at the end, the anthemic Ning Thop (a plea not to give up hope) with dulcimer, electric bass, drums and keyboards.

While the more "Western" songs -- that is, in their arrangements -- are the most easy for non-Tibetans to immediately connect with, the real gems in this collection are the traditional melodies, folk tunes and sometimes celebratory pieces, many of them on the dramnyen (long necked, five-stringed Tibetan lute).

By virtue of their simplicity, unfurling melodies and occasional embellishments from flute or dulcimer, they speak with a quiet elequence which comes imbued with yearning and a timelessness which, rightly or wrongly, many would associate with Tibet.

An important but also enjoyable album which will make you think. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

Vusa Mkhaya: Vocalism (Arc)

Vusa Mkhaya: Vocalism (Arc)

The recent Paul Simon concerts and reissue of Graceland doubtless reminded many of the vocal power of the great South African ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo who were on that album and Simon's... > Read more

Habib Koite and Bamada: Afriki (Cumbancha/Elite)

Habib Koite and Bamada: Afriki (Cumbancha/Elite)

Music from Mali doesn't come much more mesmerising or mellow than this consistently laidback series of songs by one of that country's most inventive and musically curious griots. For this album,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

TRUE? Short stories by MICHAEL BOTUR

TRUE? Short stories by MICHAEL BOTUR

Northland writer Michael Botur is certainly prolific and hard-working. True? is his fifth such short story collection (and he wrote a novel) but he is also a columnist, blogger, writes corporate... > Read more

Sheryl Crow: I'm With the Band

Sheryl Crow: I'm With the Band

For many years in the States doors would open for me when I said, "Hi, I'm Chris. I'm with the band". Apparently I look like a "Chris" and with long hair I guess it seemed... > Read more