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Stark beauty from land of heartbreak

Tibet: The Heart of Dharma
Tibet: The Heart of Dharma
By various artists

Ellipsis Arts: 1996

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This review first appeared in the December 6, 1996 issue of the North County Times.

As with all of Ellipsis Arts' Musical Expeditions releases, "Tibet: The Heart of Dharma" is equal parts history, sociology and music. It's a small, hardcover book with a CD in the back – kind of like National Geographic set to music.

The book's focus on topics other than the music on the CD may be inevitable given the ethnic cleansing going on in Tibet – more than 1 million dead at the hands of the Chinese government, others forcibly removed from their homes. It is a deeply depressing tale, this violent oppression of Tibet by the communist regime – an oppressed aided and abetted by our own cozying up to Beijing.

But the music is startling in its stark beauty. The chants are not so different from the Gregorian variety that became such a big hit in the West a few years back, even if the language is different. And in both traditions, the aim is transcendence through music – finding spiritual clarity through repetition and trance.