Thursday, January 22, 2009

Peyote Healing Chants of the Native American Church

As Sung By Ralph Turtle
1972 Canyon Records C-6094

Phoenix, AZ

From the jacket notes by Robert Nuss:

"Peyote chants are generally uniform from one tribe to another which make them unique in American Indian Music. They are also unlike any of the traditional songs of the Plains Indians where the native American Church developed. The high degree of tension, breaks, quavers, and accents typical of Plains music are absent. They are sung in quiet unstressed style similar to the tribes of the Sonoran Desert and parts of Mexico. The drum and rattle are played at a constant tempo and beat in eigth notes top give the impression of a rapid tempo. A majority of peyote chants are sung within a range of a fifth to an octave and as with most Indian music have a descending melodic pattern. A phrase is usually composed of several small downward intervals occurring between phrases. There are a few variations which are due to some tribal differences in musical style during the early formative years of the peyote ritual in the 1870's and 1880's.

In 1918 several independent tribal churches joined together to form the Native American Church, a formal non-profit corporation for the purpose of presenting a strong united front to meet the hostility of the outside world. Several states were attempting to outlaw the use and possession of peyote through formal lawmaking. The organized Native American Church was better able to lead the way for the smaller local groups in court cases over the legality of the use of peyote in prayer meetings. The Church's arguments are based on constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and on differences of opinion between Church and states on the effects of peyote as it is used in prayer meetings."

listen to Peyote Healing Chants

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Strafe für Rebellion: Vögel

1989 Touch Music
London, England

Germany has always handed us a myriad of remarkable, unique and unexplainable musicians throughout the years. Prog, electronic, space rock, techno, punk, industrial - none of these genres would be complete without a chapter in their book about how this German band or that German band perfected the genre and left the playing field an impossible-to-navigate minefield for all others who tried to attempt it. This seems to apply right down to albino pop music (but I will save Heino for another day).

To be the best of a genre is one thing, but to actually manage to rise above multiple genres, sound itself, philosophy and ideology and strike your place as masterful sound artists and manipulators of field recordings in a truly post-Cageian fashion, yet not dull your accessibility with academia, is a beautiful achievement. Strafe für Rebellion has stood out for the better part of 25 years in their sound accomplishments. With their ability to paint entrancing landscapes of sound from bits of wire and foam and birds and trains and squeaky wheels, the engulf a listener in a world, or universe unlike any we are used to, in which every step through it carries a small bit of joy, fear, trepidation, chaos, and infinite beauty.

Strafe für Rebellion's 1989 compilation Vögel contains pieces dating back almost ten years into the ensembles past. The duo of Bernd Kastner and Siegfried M. Syniuga have existed since 1979. Over the course of several albums, they have developed a style of abstract instrumental music that owes a lot to their use of home-made instruments, found objects and field recordings. In the 1993 interview with Brian Duguid, they described their musical techniques as follows:

"As you probably know we do not use any electronic music instruments. We do not condemn electronic music instruments at all, it is just not our approach. One central aspect of our work is the use of field recordings, either wild or domesticated animals, machines and all kinds of noises that we think are peculiar in some way. We go searching for sounds during trips, we occasionally find them or we consciously go looking for special sounds (visiting a zoo, for example). When we do field recordings already some compositional elements come into being - they go beyond the pure documentary sounds and beyond the quality of our normal archive. We also use 'normal' music instruments and 'prepare' them, there are also self-made music instruments or noise machines. But we never use anyone else's pre-recorded sounds; we have never used samplers nor rhythm machines."

Oddly enough this particular compilation contains cover versions of Patsy Cline's "Crazy" and "Walking After Midnight" as well as Leonard Cohen's "Sister's of Mercy". At first these covers are indiscernable, however, they slowly unfold into what may be the most unique interpretations of any pre-existing song ever attempted.

Enjoy listening to Vögel

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

HWYL: The Intimate Texture of Sound

Various Artists

1987 HWYL Records

While sometimes bordering on new-agey, don't let this release fool you. This compilation of atmospheric music released by Steve Parry in 1987, is best described by his liner notes:

"For many years I have been interested in the concept of atmospheric music. HWYL has been created to promote and release original music from a musical idiom employing classical, primitive, jazz, folk, minimalism, instrumental modern to future forms of music. Music conceived through emotion to evoke emotion. As are the creative and compositional boundaries of this music limitless then so are the listeners interpretation of them.

Sound is ever present, at times we are simply unaware of its being. Silence has characteristic qualities unto its own.

This music encompasses both sound and silence. Music to create or enhance an atmosphere. Perceive then this sound as your own."

Steve Parry, Director HWYL York 1987

1.Side A Trevor Stainsby , Richard Hall Desert Sunrise (1:22)
2.Side A Gilbert Isbin When It's Over (3:37)
3.Side A Steve Jadd* Solitary Lands (4:46)
4.Side A Gary Caulfield Sanctuary (3:35)
5.Side A Dafydd Pierce Wood Nymphs (Tylwyth Teg) (2:29)
6.Side A Trevor Stainsby Full Moon Over Still Waters (4:11)
7.Side A Gramophone Society, The Patagonia (3:18)
1.Side B Martin Coles Heaven's Gate (3:56)
2.Side B Max Inca Dreaming In The Azure Forest (4:01)
3.Side B Tranceport Chrona (3:24)
4.Side B Kevin O'Neill Intimations Of Immortality (4:07)
5 Side B Jenny Curtis Dolphin (4:48)
6.Side B Myth Gestalt Surrounded By Shadows (4:16)

take a listen to HWYL