MUSIC REVIEWS
By Jim Brenholts

 

 

David and Steve Gordon
Earth Drum: The 25th
Anniversary Collection, Vol. 1
CD / DVD
Sequoia Records
www.sequoiarecords.com
David and Steve Gordon began living their dream 25 years ago. They created Sequoia Records as the label for their own tribal-influenced and deep-healing soundscapes. Today, it is one of the finest labels for new age, healing, tribal and Shamanic healing music. The label features more than a dozen artists.

Earth Drum: The 25th Anniversary Collection, Vol. 1, is a collection of eight compositions from four of David’s and Steve’s CD’s. It is a two-disc set — one audio and one audio/visual. It is an amazing adventure.

The music is deep and atmospheric. David and Steve use a wide assortment of acoustic instruments and devices, electronics, keyboards, loops and programming. The pieces are serene and divine. The rhythms mesmerize, energize and sensitize deep listeners. They also relax as listeners’ biorhythms attune to the beats. The movements are contagious and fulfilling.

The sound design is flawless. The brothers are in tune with nature and the spirit and soul of Mother Earth. Their arrangements tap into that connection and the organic textures become real and surreal and overt and subtle. They intertwine with the acoustic timbres to deliver strong healing power.

The video is from another plane entirely. The film is all nature scenes. The images are crystal clear and sharp. The colors are so vivid it seems almost animated at times. It comes off the screen as three dimensional.

The videos enhance the serenity of the experience. It is easy to get lost in and enveloped by the music and video. It is only necessary to show up. David and Steve provide all the directions and instructions.

This kind of music evokes several different imageries — from the nature scenes in the video to psychedelia from the 60’s to outer space scenery from the new millennium. The presented format forms a holistic package that allows listeners/viewers to follow the soul wherever it wills to go.
 

Coyote Oldman
Under an Ancient Sky
Hearts of Space
www.valley-entertainment.com
www.coyoteoldman.com
Space has been around forever. So has space music. Nobody called it that until some time in the 20th century. Perhaps it was in 1918 after the first performance of Gustav Holst’s The Planets. It might have been in the 50’s after Louis and Bebe Barrons created the soundtrack for The Forbidden Planet. It is a moot point. Space music has been around since man first created instruments.

Among the purest of these instruments are native American flutes. Under an Ancient Sky, by Coyote Oldman, features the Anasazi flute which had been lost for centuries. In the hands of Michael Graham Allen, a master of the flute, and Barry Stramp, a master technician, the instrument springs to life as the music surrounds, caresses and kidnaps the soul. It is difficult to explain the feelings that this music evokes as the timbres and textures float around the listening zone.

Barry and Michael use no synthesizers to augment their music. This is, nevertheless, pure space music. It is easy to imagine a journey to, through and beyond the stars. The duo takes listeners to the vast nether regions of the universe and guides the imagery. There are dreams. There are visions. There are answers. They are different for each listener and for each experience. They are all worthy.
Coyote Oldman has created another gem in their vast discography. This is a great CD from two great artists.


Biomusique
The 10,000 Steps
Kosmic Music
www.kosmicmusic.com
Biomusique is Greg Ellis and Lisbeth Scott. Greg is well known as a master percussionist, multi-instrumentalist, technician and producer. Lisbeth is well known for her solo recordings and her soundtrack performances. She is, indeed, an extremely talented vocalist. The 10,000 Steps is their debut CD as a duo and it is a great opening statement.

Greg’s sound design incorporates Lisbeth’s vocals as both a feature and as an integral piece. Her style lends itself well to that design as some of the lyrics are wordless chants. The lyrics are important or unimportant depending on the flow of the listening experience. One can either focus on the lyrics or the voice as an extra acoustic element. In both cases the imagery is peaceful and calm.
If there is such a thing as “intense serenity,” this embodies the concept. That would be serenity that has to exist and cannot be ignored. When practitioners encounter such serenity, it caresses them and levels their paths.

This CD is also downright sexy and romantic! Lisbeth’s breathy vocals seduce listeners — particularly couples — as they reach out and tease the mood. Greg’s surrounding atmospheres enhance and heighten the emotional barrage.

The intense serenity and seductive timbres complement each other totally. It allows for a very satisfying journey.
Greg and Lisbeth accomplish this with acoustic instruments. They use no loops, samples or electronics. The sound is pure. The cutting-edge recording techniques take advantage of the natural properties of the acoustic instruments and enhance the soulfulness.

This is a great CD. Hopefully it is the first of many from Biomusique.


Johnny Whitehorse
Totemic Flute Chants
Silver wave Records
www.silverwave.com
Johnny Whitehorse, a character creation of Robert Mirabal, presents as a sensitive, caring man, dedicated to his heritage and Mother Nature. Totemic Flute Chants is a set of devotional compositions that combine ethnic acoustics with hints of electronics.

This is a special kind of ambience. It is not overtly ambient and Robert probably did not intend it to be perceived as such. It is, however, ambient in its own right and fashion as are many Native American albums. (I would exclude most standard “pow wow” type albums from that generalization.)

That being established, this CD has a depth that one does not encounter often. Robert becomes Johnny as he speaks to the listener through his voice, chants and flutes. Surrounding and augmenting instruments add to the imagery as listeners envision Native American legends coming to life. The tales become reality and it is easy to grasp the concepts of their traditions and their love for all things that come from the Great Spirit.

In that essence, everything has life and everything is holy. Everything has purpose, too. Johnny embraces these tenets and yearns for simpler times when purity was real and visions were commonplace.

This CD deserves a place in any healing arts collection. Robert’s sensitivity takes it to a high level of achievement.


Scott August
Lost Canyons
Cedar Mesa Music
www.cedarmesa.com
Lost Canyons, by Scott August, also features the Anasazi flute. That flute is a space music lover’s dream, an ambient music fan’s panacea, a healing arts practitioner’s friend and a new age music aficionado’s guest of honor.

In the hands of a master like Scott, the flute generates expansive atmospheres that surround and caress listeners like a narcotic. It is like going under anesthesia without the fear of impending surgery or the unpleasant after effects. Scott creates beautiful drones and sweet melodies that are beyond this world — indeed, beyond this universe. Listeners will be able to watch themselves from above as the timbres and textures take them on an “out of body” experience.

(This CD struck some very personal chords for me. As many of you are aware, I am a recovering addict with more than 20 years clean and sober. My brain and body reacted to this CD with all of the pleasant effects of a narcotic and no sickness. My creativity was enhanced. My visions were intense, acute and generous. I laughed out loud. My wife, not a practitioner, was puzzled and bewildered. I felt more relaxed than I have in years.

I attended a workshop last month in which I was introduced to EMDR — Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing — a psychotherapy technique that is cutting edge and beautiful in its simplicity. It also has protocol; in relaxation and pain management. I am not qualified to use this in my private practice but I am able to use it on myself. I tried it with this CD and I experienced more than an hour of pain and stress relief that no medication could deliver. (I also have serious physical pain issues.) It was a revelation that has thunderous possibilities.)

This is a great CD, certainly among the best of 2007 and probably among the best ever. It combines acoustic space music, Native American sensitivity and intense serenity in ways that transcend reality.



Jim Brenholts resides in N. Versailles, PA and can be reached at jbrenholts@comcast.net

 


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