Playing time: 51'
Recording dates: 1971; released: 1972 (Lyrichord LP), 1993 (Lyrichord CD), 2006 (Sub Rosa)
Although the Lyrichord issue was Volume 4, the Sub Rosa release is listed as Volume 2 — following a double CD release featuring the temple-based first three volumes of the original Lyrichord series as recorded by John Levy.
Presumably I didn't notice this anthology previously because the first three volumes of Tibetan Buddhist religious music were the focus of the original series. (This volume is actually disparaged in some retail reviews, since it doesn't involve temple music.) However, there is fascinating material here, often having little or nothing in common with other music from the broader region. This ends up being a very distinctive set of recorded performances to encounter decades later in the (very nicely done) Sub Rosa remastering & repackaging. (It generally sounds nothing like Indian music, say, and most of it nothing like Chinese....) The album thus presents a very different view from e.g. the later Central Asian anthology that I found so compelling in the 1990s: One seemingly hears music similar to that of Yemen (or even Ethiopia), Java, etc. coming from the Himalayan foothills.
That said, I've made only modest effort to discover more recent, similar music. I don't know to what extent these styles have changed after nearly fifty years, but online summaries claim that traditional music remains strong in Bhutan.... So maybe there is something new & exciting — other than Westernized material, obviously — to emerge?
To purchasing information for this disc.
To World Music page.T. M. McComb