Tibetan singer Yungchen Lhamo and Russian pianist Anton Batagov first met through their mutual friendship with famed choreographer Bill T. Jones, so it's only natural that their first musical collaboration would be based on movement and improvisation. "Some things that we spend years planning never come to pass," Lhamo says philosophically, "while other unexpected flashes leap out of the moment and show us new ways to learn and grow. Meeting Anton through my dear friend Bill T. Jones was one such discovery that I did not plan. Not only is Anton a very talented musician, but even though he comes from Russia and does not speak my language, he still intuitively grasps my music."
A native of Lhasa, Lhamo has emerged as one of the world's leading Tibetan singers, known for her hypnotic a cappella performances and her deep spiritual commitment to Tibetan history and culture. She has released three critically acclaimed albums with Peter Gabriel's Real World label -- Tibet, Tibet (1996), Coming Home (1998) and Ama (2006) -- and has collaborated with a diverse range of artists including Natalie Merchant, Philip Glass, Annie Lennox, Michael Stipe and Billy Corgan.
Loosely translated, Tayatha is a Tibetan Buddhist term that means "it is like this." This particular recording marks an unprecedented foray for Lhamo into post-minimalist improvisation with Batagov, a graduate of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory who has been described by the L.A. Times as "a Russian Terry Riley." Intimate and unusually personal, Tayatha traces a journey of spiritual transformation, invoking the universal themes of love, family, faith and renewal.
"The point where East meets West in this story is not where they usually meet," Batagov says. "It's definitely closer to the world of chamber post-minimalist music than to the world of pop arrangements. That's why we called the album Tayatha. Buddhist mantras usually begin with tayatha -- that's why we hope people will play the whole album without interruption. It's a trip that has its special trajectory, like a modern vocal cycle."