Daniel – Quartz Crystal Bells, 1988

Pristine crystal overtones. Most of this moves at glacial speeds, with a few stretches of more active composition. While singing bowls go back hundreds of years, crystal singing bowls (made from silica quartz) weren’t manufactured until the mid-80s when they were used to grow silicon computer chips. They weren’t marketed as healing instruments until the early 90s, meaning Quartz Crystal Bells is one of the pioneering recordings of crystal singing bowls. Recorded live on a set of twelve bowls between 8″ and 18″ in diameter, with Daniel Lauter as well as Donna Soszynski and Kim Atkinson on the bowls, and recorded by Bernard Xolotl (reminder to post some Bernard Xolotl).

This is a decent quality tape rip with some room tone, but if you like it I’d highly recommend buying a re-mastered version directly from Daniel, which is divided up into five tracks rather than two sides.

[Mix for NTS Radio] Getting Warmer Episode 7: Voices Special

I made a two hour mix for NTS Radio of songs with vocals that are significant to me. I had originally set out to focus on experimental vocals, but I realized that so much of what might sound experimental to western ears—Tibetan chant, Inuit throat singing, Chinese folk—is deeply traditional, not experimental at all. Instead, I approached this as two hours of vocal milestones, be they from technical, stylistic, or emotive standpoints. It’s not possible to make a two hour comprehensive survey of strong vocal traditions, nor of the most important singers, though there are quite a few of both categories in here. Putting this together was hard, and while I could easily have spent years digging and rethinking, I set a month time limit to ensure that I would finish it at all.

As I was making this I also thought a lot about how Björk framed her almost entirely vocal record Medúlla as a response to September 11th–both the event itself and the subsequent wave of patriotism and xenophobia that she experienced as a foreigner living in New York. Making an all-vocal album was, for her, a coping mechanism and a means of trying to reconnect with what it means to be a human.

Lastly, a note that this isn’t as listenable or poppy as the mixes that I typically make, though I did try to arc it in a way that feels good. I’m not really sure what its ideal listening environment is–it probably involves headphones–so I hope that you enjoy it all the same! If you’d like an mp3 version you can download it here. Thank you for listening 💜

Tracklisting:
1. The Impressions – For Your Precious Love
2. Meredith Monk – Strand (Gathering)
3. Geinoh Yamashirogumi – Genesis (abridged)
4. Bessie Griffin & The Gospel Pearls – Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
5. Philippine Madrigal Singers – Pamugun (comp. Francisco Feliciano)
6. Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes – Jusqu’à Ce Que La Force De T’aimer Me Manque (excerpt)
7. Emma Kirkby & Gothic Voices – O Euchari (comp. Hildegard von Bingen)
8. Björk – Pleasure Is All Mine
9. The Ronettes – Baby I Love You (Isolated Vocals) (excerpt)
10. David Hykes & The Harmonic Choir – Arc Descents
11. Unknown Artists – Sumi Yeinyo (Hani Crying Song) (Southern China)
12. The Beach Boys – Surfer Girl (Alternate Version)
13. John Jacob Niles – Go ‘Way From My Window
14. The Tallis Scholars – Spem In Alium, Motet for 40 Voices (comp. Thomas Tallis)
15. Geinoh Yamashirogumi – Doll’s Polyphony
16. Young Thug – All Over
17. Ghédalia Tazartès – Une Voix S’en Va
18. Yma Sumac – Taita Inty (Virgin Of The Sun God)
19. Arthur Miles – Lonely Cowboy, Pt. 2
20. Angkanang Kunchai With Ubon-Pattana Band – Isan Lam Plearn (excerpt)
21. The Hilliard Ensemble – Viderunt Omnes (comp. Pérotin)
22. Ustad Ghulam Ali & Asha Bhosle – Salona Sa Sajan Hai Aur Main Hoon
23. Patti Page – Confess (excerpt)
24. Monks of Gyütö Tantric College – Sangwa Düpa (excerpt)
25. Amália Rodrigues – Gaivota (excerpt)
26. Unknown Artist – Akazehe Par Une Jeune Fille (Burundi)
27. Anna Homler & Steve Moshier – Sirens (excerpt)
28. Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir – Stani Mi, Maytcho (Get Up, My Daughter)
29. David Hykes & The Harmonic Choir – Rainbow Voice
30. Lucy Amarualik & Mary Sivuarapik – Song Of A Cooking Seal Flipper
31. Dr. Octagon – Halfsharkalligatorhalfman
32. Judy Henske & Jerry Yester – Rapture (excerpt)
33. The Hilliard Ensemble – Sabbato Sancto – Responsorium 5 (comp. Carlo Gesualdo)
34. Linda Jones – Your Precious Love (excerpt)

Raul Lovisoni & Francesco Messina – Prati Bagnati Del Monte Analogo, 1979

Such a special record. Split between Raul Lovisoni, whose work I don’t know too much about, and Francesco Messina (there’s a track from his very strange and very good Medio Occidentale on this mix). The A-side is a 24 minute long synthesizer bath, with swaths of meandering piano on top (there’s definitely something harp-like happening too, though it’s not listed in the credits). It sounds like a hot spring in the wintertime, with synth pads acting as clouds of rising steam. The B side is two ~10 minute tracks by Lovisoni, both very different from the A-side and from each other. “Hula Om” feels markedly more “indoors” than Messina’s cosmic title track. It’s just a repeating harp motif, though at a few points you can hear bird sounds filtering through a window, something being dropped in the next room, clothing shifting around, and the creak of somebody’s knees, all of which feel fitting given the raw and warm spatial textures that bring three seemingly disparate tracks together. The closer, “Amon Ra,” also a Lovisoni composition, is mostly clear, ringing overtones courtesy of a crystallophone, with some sparse patches of vocal chanting. The embrace of truthful, unedited sound, both across the synthetic landscape of the A-side and the acoustic sparsity of the B-side, makes Prati Bagnati del Monte Analogo feel like a diary or a photo album: these are bare bones, beautiful songs as they happened, where they happened, and that’s more than enough.

Karma Moffett – Sitting Still Within / Sitting Still Without, 1982


Guest post by Gaurav Bashyakarla (Beer on The Rug
This cassette was gifted to me by a very close friend in 2011 after returning from travels through the great state of California. The album was originally digitized with the intention of being shared on the Crystal Vibrations blog around the time it went defunct. Unfortunately it never saw the light of day there but is here now for your listening pleasure.

The sounds, frequencies and overtones on this tape lend themselves to a stillness of mind and chakra activation/harmonization. Just listen and you will see/feel.

David Hykes & the Harmonic Choir – Hearing Solar Winds, 1983

“This recording was made in L’Abbaye du Thoronet, a 12th-century Cisterian monastery in Provence, where I had previously brought the choir in 1978. The simple harmonic geometry of the abbey seemed perfectly proportioned to magnify the choir’s music and let it resonate within its sacred space. Working there was an incredible challenge: our sensations, our breathing, and even our thoughts and emotions became intensely amplified.”

–David Hykes, liner notes

Hearing Solar Winds is a milestone for the human voice. Much of Hykes’s work originates from Tantric Tibetan Buddhism and western Mongolian khöömi, or overtone singing. Yet in this context, recorded live in a French abbey over the course of two evenings, it’s a completely different beast from traditional throat singing. It’s less active and more drawn out, less human and more ghostly. It shimmers–did a songbird get trapped in the abbey, or was someone playing an unimaginably tiny glass flute? “Telescoping,” and of course “Rainbow Voice,” quite literally sound like light being split through a prism: when producing harmonics, “the voice acts as a kind of sonic prism, ‘refracting’ sound along a frequency spectrum which extends upward from the fundamental tone.”
Elsewhere, Hearing Solar Winds is as much about sonic illusion as it is overtones. Several tracks employ the Shepard scale, which is a “sound consisting of a superposition of sine waves separated by octaves, with the base pitch of the tone moving upward or downward. This creates the auditory illusion of a tone that continually ascends or descends in pitch, yet which ultimately seems to get no higher or lower. It has been described as a ‘sonic barber’s pole.'” Upon first listen, the effect is disorienting and even a bit nauseating, as it’s difficult to understand where you are, tonally. If you don’t mind losing track of your body, Hearing Solar Winds Becomes less of an album and more of an hour long meditation–cosmic not because of shimmering synth pads or floating arpeggiation (there are none) but because of its direct sonic verticality. This is the real deal.
Incredibly, Hearing Solar winds is David Hykes’s first album. He went on to release five more albums with the unbelievably precise Harmonic Choir, and five more without them. (Side note: “Rainbow Voice” was featured in the soundtrack for Dead Poets Society.) He’s worked extensively with sound healing and spirituality, developing a comprehensive approach to “contemplative music” called harmonic chant, about which there’s a nice interview with him here. I would highly recommend a rainy day listen of Hearing Solar Winds on good speakers, without doing much of anything else.

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