Phurpa is a monastic choir that creates a form of Bön, the shamanistic rites of various ancestral cults in pre-Buddhist Tibet. Which is odd because the participants are Russian. The music though is a kind of vocal meditation, a form of overtone chanting called “rgud-skad” or Tantric voice.
The results are incredibly powerful. This is ritualistic experiential music. The deep rumble of the multiple wordless droning chants creating a remarkable effect within both their space and yours. It’s hard to know who this is for. You get the sense that this kind of ritualistic happening is incredible powerful for the practitioners, perhaps even more so than the listener.
That said this is music that changes every room its played in. It’s dark and menacing, inherently masculine in a way that the knowledge that the participants are transcending to their own spiritual nirvana doesn’t entirely mitigate. Obviously there are links to Buddist rites, yet also black metal, and the fact that it never truly announces itself in either worlds is what makes it so interesting. I feel real links to David Hykes Harmonic Choir who mined the traditions of Tibet, though also Mongolia and the Middle East, and similarly worked with overtones though favoured more new age and less dark ritualistic imagery. I personally love the darkness. Towards the end of the album, the relentless bottom end vocal droning creates a kind of feedback that works remarkably with the voice. This is powerful bleak music. Experimental yet dark. There’s a transcendent heaviness here. You’ve never heard anything like it.