Review - Music of Laos: The Buddhist Tradition

Artist: Various Artists

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Sixty years of French colonialism followed by the last 30 years of communist rule has done little to mute centuries of entrenched Buddhism in the tiny Asian country of Laos. These recordings (made in 2000 as part of a larger study into Laos' under-documented musical heritage) reveal the musical manifestation of that history. Obviously influenced by neighboring cultures in Thailand and China and most similar to the sounds of Indonesian music, the serene atmospheres of Laos' spirituality emerge from traditional percussion instruments (barrel drums, xylophones) and chanted vocals. Meditative and expansive in places, explosive in others, all of the 19 pieces each emerged from various rituals and are accordingly rich in beauty.

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