MUAIC REVIEWS
By Jim Brenholts

 

Cornsmoke
Freedom Saviors
Cornsmoke Music

www.cornsmoke.com
Gary LaCorte used to perform brilliant Native American music as Cornsmoke. Unfortunately - for him and his fans - he developed a physical condition that prevents him from playing his flute or any other instrument. (When I talked to him, he was vague about the condition but assured me that it was debilitating.) Fortunately, he has left a legacy of four CD's for music lovers to enjoy.

Freedom Saviors is an awesome CD and an expert mix of modern and traditional styles. It is "dedicated to ALL VETERANS (and) POW/MIA's of all wars - combat and noncombat, male and female . . . red, yellow, black and white - who stood under old glory and what it represents." (Gary is a veteran himself, having served in Vietnam.)

The disc features Gary's virtuoso flutes and subtle percussion and David Michael on synthesizer. The music is dark and dense and surrounds listeners with eerie drones that have distinct overtones. The atmospheres are not subtle. Gary is leading listeners on a journey through his own war experiences. He is relentless in his process to relive and relieve his pain. It is a difficult yet necessary journey.

It would seem, given that description, that it is difficult to listen to this CD. It is, however, not difficult at all. Gary's journey allows listeners to examine their own dark pages and uncover areas in need of healing. After all, the surest way to Heaven is to go through some hell.

Gary no longer has his own website but his music is available through CD Baby. All of his discs are excellent and he is a great man.

 

Rusty Granger
A Place Called Peace
The Creative Service Company
www.randygranger.net
Randy Granger is a well-traveled veteran musician. He began his professional career when he was ten years old and has been at it ever since. He has toured with his own alternative-rock bands - Two Fields Burning and The Peat Column - and as a solo artist.

A Place Called Peace features Rusty's brilliant Native American flute with subtle accompaniment from his hang drum, didg and various percussion devices. Randy is a virtuoso on the Native American flute. He is also one of a handful of hang drum virtuosos. (That instrument is hard to find and even harder to learn, let alone master.

Trust me, I know. I looked for one for years and then a friend showed me his. I gave up. Given the cost of a new one I am glad I did not find one.) It produces a synth-like drone that complements the NA flute nicely. Randy's sound design is flawless, and he uses the drone sparingly and adroitly. The atmospheres are dense and soar strongly and softly.

The soundscapes are gentle and effective. They cradle listeners lovingly as the drifts and rolls coax them into states of meditative bliss and deep relaxation. Randy's sensitive style allows for long adventures into deep zones.

This is a vital and necessary CD. It belongs in any ambient collection.

 

Deborah Martin
Deep Roots, Hidden Water Spotted Peccary
www.spottedpeccary.com
Spotted Peccary is one of the leading labels for ambient and other eclectic music genres. Deborah Martin is one of the founding members and a brilliant musician. (She is also very kind, pretty, friendly and thoughtful. I met her at a party at Steve Roach's house in May of 2000.)

Deep Roots, Hidden Water is a combination of electronic ambience, Native American, symphonic synth and neo-classical styles. Deborah creates most of the music electronically with assistance from Coyote Old-man (Michael Graham Allen and Barry Stramp), Howard Givens, Mark Hunton, Tony Levin, Greg Klamt, Jon Jenkins, Philip Kolb, and David Stile on various acoustic and electronic instruments and effects.

The music has vast atmospheres, rolling waves of ambient bliss, subtle rhythms and deep drones. The symphonic and classical influences are in the melodies and airs.

This set is amazing! Deborah's artistry shines at every corner. The Spotted Peccary family assisted in the sound design and the balance is perfect. The natural overtones of the acoustics are superb but the electronic symphonic overtones take the music to the nth level and farther.

The airs and atmospheres embrace and envelop deep listeners. They are on a journey to explore regions beyond the surreal. The music exceeds psychoacoustic and becomes psychoactive. It's a wonderful experience.

This is an essential CD from a superb artist. Deborah's sensitivity and virtuosity are beyond description.

 

Jorge Alfano
Inti

Lyrichord

www.jorgealfano.com
www.lyrichord.com
Jorge Alfano is a great man and a humble man. Four or five years ago I e-mailed him to request some music to accompany the second edition of my book. His response was gracious and he requested that I call him. He wanted to know more about the project and about me - not in a suspicious, but a friendly and caring way. In the end he allowed me to use "Corazon al Sur" and "Desaparecidos (Requiem for the)" from Spirit of My People. (Jorge wrote only two of the tracks on that CD so I chose this one as more representative of his music.)

INTI (sun, divine spark) is the universal manifestation of Wiracocha (Creator, Higher Power, or the Absolute) in Andean pre-Hispanic cosmogony. Jorge Alfano has dedicated the music of Inti "to the major deities of this ancient tradition in the form of musical prayer by the original instruments."

Jorge is an amazing multi-instrumentalist and he used 12 ancient instruments - wind, string and percussion - to create these deeply reverent pieces. Each of the 14 compositions represents a different deity.

The simplicity of the music is its beauty. Its beauty is its simplicity. It is a constant circle of unbroken healing and deep spirituality. Jorge's gentle touch manifests his love for his heritage and his culture. (He is a native of Argentina.) He plays with passion and reverence. The depth of his emotions is unparalleled. Listeners will experience similar feelings as the tones and overtones work their magic.

This is an exceptional CD from an exceptional man. It comes with the highest recommendation.

Rusty Crutcher
Serpent Mound
Emerald Green Sound
www.emeraldgreensound.com
Rusty Crutcher is a veteran multi-instrumentalist, composer, sound designer and healing arts practitioner. His most noteworthy set is his Sacred Site Series, six CD's dedicated to "places and events of exceptional spiritual energy." Serpent Mound represents "The Great Serpent Mound" in Southern Ohio.

He combines ancient, modern and indigenous instruments in his quest for authenticity and spiritual deliverance. He uses the natural sonority of Native American flutes to create dense atmospheres and deep drifts. Overt rhythms and subtle synth drones enhance the effects and transform the listening area into a temple of sonic enchantment.

Rusty is a great sound designer. The overtones work their magic on deep listeners as the journey intensifies and the trance begins. Deep meditation reveals several paths of internal enlightenment and spiritual awakening.

The music simply takes over and leads its focused listeners down their chosen paths to a myriad of destinations. Each has its own meaning. Each meaning has its own depth and beauty. There are unlimited outcomes. They are all worthy.

This is an awesome CD! There are dozens of discs at this level of excellence. There are very few at higher levels. This disc also comes with the highest recommendation.

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

 

 


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