Ambiguity pervades this record. Not just tonally or harmonically (although certainly it is ambiguous in those cases) but in a more holistic sense of the word. The mood, the sound stage, the near-voyeuristic sense of closeness to the performers contrast starkly with the utter separation of their world and identity from our own.
Laurent Jeanneau is the lens through which we take a peek into the lives, culture and musical tradition of often-forgotten places (to the West at least). Laurent based his alternate re-versions around the extensive voice recordings he made on location in the southern regions of Yunnan and Guizhou in China as well as in Sapa, North Vietnam and Phongsaly, Northern Laos.
The compositions contain unedited acoustic recordings, computer modified parts, sound collages and acoustic recordings of people and instruments. Opener Baozoo Khen sets the mood; constantly looping and full of highly complex non-western harmonics and note divisions, the hypnotic effect of the looping vocals is almost beyond description.
The addition of instruments and spoken word coalesces over the course of the album into a totally enthralling multi-part soundscape – not of an area or landscape, but of its people…. Stunning stuff and as likely to challenge the listener as it is to calm them – incredible.