Sacred Ceremonies: Music of South Asia

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: JVC
PERFORMER: Various artists
CATALOGUE NO: VICG 13068-2

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Compilations may boost sales, but to somebody exploring a culture they can be great ear-openers. The best thing about the Sacred Ceremonies sampler is its geographical range. Familiar North Indian music and the stirring qawwali of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan are there, but so is music from the south and east of India and the rumbling, ultra-low-bass chanting of Tibetan exiles.

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When you reach the raucous, energetic festivities from Kerala you have travelled far from the cautious five minutes of sitar that will be many people’s starting point. The title does pander to a ‘mystical’ mentality and there are signs of haste about the packaging, but if you take the booklet with a sceptical eye you have a useful guide to a growing catalogue.