N A T I V E A M E R I C A N

Read the following reviews at the last part of this page:

Little Wolf Band - Sacred Spirit + Sacred Spirit single CD - Wind Riders - John Huling

In this section, flute music is one of our specialties. It's not just good to listen to, but as with many recordings of Native American rituals, it can have a striking effect on the human energy system.

COYOTE OLDMAN is Michael Graham Allen and Barry Stramp: Night Forest is a recording of traditional flute being played solo. On Tear of the Moon, one of our most recommended CDs in this genre, the clear rounded tones of the flute are accompanied by simple, harmonious background sounds. Landscape has more intensity, and Thunder Chord is so intense, that it really keeps you present. A Sky of Dreams has Barry Stramp solo with a meditative flute. Latest, on Compassion, Coyote Oldman is accompanied by a female Japanese opera singer, and her high, airy voice supplements the group beautifully! 159.-

R.CARLOS NAKAI:
Several titles. He plays a solo flute that echoes above the canyon, in Canyon Trilogy. On Sundance Season, which can be helpful in creating an experience of energy around the body, he sings with a soft, male voice, filled with a true depth of feeling, while also playing the flute and on some numbers a hand drum. 159.-

WIND RIDERS: Music for relaxing in a Native- and South American highlands mood, featuring six of Talking Taco Music's best artists on ten tracks. Read the review below. 159.-


CEREMONIAL AND WAR DANCES
AND AUTHENTIC NATIVE AMERICAN MUSIC are two new titles with many examples from the rituals of different tribes. Good live recordings, though rather short in all. 169.-

JOHN HULING
plays ambient music to relax to, with focus on the flute. Read the review below, about Spiritlands. 159.-

PEYOTE CEREMONY:
Native American ritual music. A live recording of a Ute and Navajo peyote ceremony. Here you can feel the intensity of the voices and the powerful rhythms, and on a technically fine recording! 159.-

LITTLE WOLF BAND: Contemporary Native American world music - a fine experience if you're interested in "conscious listening". Read the review below. 159.-

SACRED SPIRIT is a world music mix, has been on the world music charts - read the review below. Contemporary Native American dance for everyone. 159.-

Many other titles.


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REVIEWS

from the review section of DJEMBE, magazine for cross culture and world music

LITTLE WOLF BAND - SACRED SPIRIT - WIND RIDERS

JOHN HULING




After the ravages of perhaps one hundred years of cowboy films, with all their attending associations to the primitiveness of the "Red Indian savage", a wave of Native American music has begun to gain momentum.

What we can hear is varied, some of it original, close to documentary "ethnic", but more and more of it adapted to the modern needs of a present day audience.

When I first started looking out for Native American music, in the beginning of the 80's, all that was available to the "traveller", was the worst kind of cut-up samples of "ethnic" music and song. A 60 minute LP might contain for example 20-25 samples lasting from 30 seconds to 2½ minutes! From the seriousness of the liner notes, I could only imagine that such recordings were made for the benefit of academics, anthropologists and other denizens of university environments, who perhaps blithely imagined that they were studying the culture of a people in that way.

There was nothing to get one's hair into, to get a feel of what it was really all about.

But today, we have ads on the sides of busses in Copenhagen, spots on radio and TV, all bringing our Scandinavian attention to the Sacred Spirit, the cultural "feel" of present day Native America. And please note that this 'Sacred Spirit' is said to have sold half a million copies in Spain and France!

Here's a selection of titles received by Djembe:


LITTLE WOLF BAND: 'Dream Song'

It's been said that if one asks a Native American where his thoughts come from, he will point to his heart. Perhaps, then, this can contribute to an understanding of the special quality of Native American music. One can always hear the feelings of the heart in it.

This record clearly seems deeply rooted in traditional native culture. At the same time, it is not traditional music we hear here. Most numbers are a mixture, usually with some traditional element, such as song, a folk melody or some drumming, sharing the focus with modern keyboards and percussion instruments. By this treatment, even the basic, flat pounding 4/4 of a Native American drum rhythm becomes rounded and ambient. So it may be powerful, but nothing like a rock rhythm.

The result is a kind of orchestrated, musical journey through a feeling world of sound, that we're not very used to in our culture. As in some Mexican recordings I've heard, the music easily creates images and lends itself to inner fantasies, á la the world of Don Juan and his shamanistic peyote trips.

Words from a Cree Round Dance: "The sky blesses me, the earth blesses me. Up in the skies I cause the spirits to dance. On the earth, the people I cause to dance".

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SACRED SPIRIT - Chants and Dances of the Native Americans
mixed & produced by "The Fearsome Brave"

Sacred Spirit is a world music mix, in particular of traditional Native American chant with modern, pseudo-native percussion and keyboards sounds. The result is a well-integrated, ambient mix of traditional chant and drumming with techno, disco, pop, jazz, Spanish guitar, a bit of Sami joik-singing - you name it!

The fusion of all these styles is quite surprisingly homogeneous, and the reason can only be that the total expression of mood, of sentiment, really does have a single cultural base. And moreover, it's a base that is succeeding in integrating present day musical trends into its own, special form. (For another example listen to Little Wolf Band's 'Dream Song' - Djembe no.14).

Most of the tracks on the album have their own distinct character:

For example on an "intertribal song to stop the rain", the Native American element is joined by something akin to Andalusian flamenco, with Spanish guitar, flute and a tinkly jazz piano - alternating with passages with the basically ambient, but by no means monotonous, disco drumming rhythm that underlies much of the record.

Or on the techno-ish 'Yo-Hey-O-Hee' ("Brandishing the Tomahawk"), a track with a good jump to it, which alternates between Native group chanting with a heavy backing rhythm, and - still keeping the jump of the rhythm intact - a single female voice accompanied only by the sound of a single cymbal.

'Sacred Spirit' could be called an offering to The Great Spirit in one of its more worldly forms. Which is another way of saying, put your money where your solidarity is, you'll be getting a worthwhile addition to your music collection, and you'll be contributing to a good cause.

Virgin's record cover proclaims magnanimously that "a donation will be made to the Native American Rights Fund for each CD sold". And "The N.A.R. Fund is a non-profit organisation which devotes all its time to restoring the legal rights of the Indian people".

Since the only credits are on a small line on the back cover: "all tracks arranged, mixed and produced by 'The Fearsome Brave'", it seems that we're making our way through a barrage of trade newspeak, and that in fact the recording artists have donated their work to N.A.R., so Virgin is paying normal royalties, but to the N.A.R. Fund, instead of to the musicians.

All and all, well within the bounds of the traditions of both Native Americans as well as new Americans.


SACRED SPIRIT - YEHA - NOHA (Single)

The CD single Yeha Noha ("Wishes of Happiness and Prosperity") takes two numbers from the 'Sacred Spirit' original, and mixes further on them. The first number is made into a ballad, the others are more or less straight techno mixes, good for shaking your legs and whatever else you like to shake. These mixes are also donated to the Native American Rights Fund, the

contributions being made by techno groups The Grid, Love to Infinity and B.U.M.P.

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Most releases of Native American music today, that make their way to Europe, feature the ambient, relaxed sounds produced by the traditional flute.

WIND RIDERS - Native American Flute Compositions by various artists

To quote from the liner notes of the compilation CD Wind Riders: "In Native American lore and culture the flute holds a special place because of the power of its melodies to express love and healing. Those players who excel on the flute are known as 'the wind riders' because they can transform 'wind' into magical flute music".

Again, the flute is often, softly, accompanied by percussive elements, whose main connection to tradition is their relative lack of syncopation. Remember the pictures of stomping Red Indians, treading heavily in a circle around the captive paleface. The non-syncopated percussion seems, however, to be making way for more Western and African rhythmic concepts (witness the 'Sacred Spirit' release). In Southern U.S.A. the outside influence is more specifically Spanish.

Wind Riders features six of Talking Taco Music's artists on ten tracks. Talking Taco is a Southwestern based company, and the music here often has a strong dash of Spanish flavour. The cuts are a mixture of flute with percussion, sometimes close to South American pan flute music, sometimes with a guitar accompaniment, occasionally with song, and often completed by the ambient atmosphere of the keyboard. Music for relaxing in a Native- and South American highlands mood.

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Then there is John Huling's Spiritlands. If I say New Age here, I mean it in the sense that this is imaginative music, music that creates and works with the listener's own active imagination.

There is an interesting affinity between some kinds of New Age music and what was once called "acid music", i.e. music suitable to the classical sorcery of the LSD trip. The differences between this and drug-induced experience being first of all that this is voluntary, and secondly that it doesn't ever play on the aggressive feelings of the listener..

What many people can feel to be missing in much New Age music is perhaps a sense of power. Correspondingly, what often seems to be behind people's objection to New Age is the experience in the listener, of a kind of loss of power.

Perhaps what really is the problem is rather a feeling of loss of consciousness. Where the music becomes a vehicle to a shadow world of fantasy. It's a step below our everyday level of aggressively pursuing our needs, and necessarily requires a kind of more passive attention, than we're used to.

Unfortunately, all New Age music tends to be placed in the category of experiencing a loss of power, and there is a lot of prejudicial resistance to it.

John Huling's music is not in this category - it's music with a presence, that easily lends itself to making pictures, images in the mind - and it is a good vehicle for the conveyance of what one could call the feeling of Native America.

John Huling is apparently a Caucasian American who has taken the energy and feeling of Native America to himself. He plays traditional flutes as well as drums, pan flutes and keyboards.

Structuring a modern totality of sound, he re-creates the basic drumming patterns of Native music, overlaying it with the ambient intensity of flutes that seem to whisper songs in your ear, reaching into the imagination, and creating pictures of Western American nature - the deserts, the depth of the magnificent dry, yellow canyons, whispering streams of water and the sounds and presence of the animal inhabitants.

Jack Donen

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