David Corter

Didgeridoo Mania, Vol. 2: Goin' Walkabout

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Didgeridoo Mania, Vol. 2 is the second "solo" album from David Corter, best known as one of the early members of the Blue Man Group. Here, he continues much of what was accomplished in the first Didgeridoo Mania, but with a bit more of the feel of the transitional thrown in. The bulk of the music is progressive, modern didgeridoo work, which generally has something of a focus on the psychedelic aspects of the instrument and its powerful drone, but there's a definite and intentional secondary focus on the traditional aspects of didgeridoo playing; those aspects which aren't generally part of the repertoire of the fusion/worldbeat artists espousing the instruments. In more detail, the fusion aspect of his music here tends to attempt to fuse the old and the new, rather than focusing on the new alone. Traditional playing techniques are used in introductory passages ad nauseum, but after a short time, the didgeridoo takes a place in front alongside piano and guitar lines. As to the hearkening back, vocal samples are looped here and there often to make a point about the slow cultural death of the aboriginals, as they adjust themselves and their culture to the incoming urban jungles and wastelands that are threatening them ("Mouth of the Desert" is perhaps the most notable example of this use), but much more importantly Corter has interspersed his modern sounds with shorter tracks of purely traditional playing, using only the rhythms and songs that he learned from a short time spent in the outback learning with a Wardaman elder. The juxtaposition of these two strands and their constant interweaving is an attempt to force the listener into some appreciation of the old styles (which are rarely commercially successful) as well as the now-standard concept of the didgeridoo as an ambient instrument. Musically, Corter has improved quite a bit since his debut album, making much fuller charts here with a richer sound than the norm. The heavy use of Byron Estep's 12-string and National steel guitars is perhaps one of the defining characteristics here though, with the mix of didg and guitar forming a vaguely Western sound, full of other aspects but distinctly reminiscent of the old West, and more so of the contemporary Japanese anime soundtrack composers that have added a futuristic edge to the sounds while remaining surprisingly true to an Ennio Morricone sort of aesthetic (see Yoko Kanno for the prime example). Overall, it's not so much Corter's abilities on the instrument (the traditional players generally have a much larger bag of tricks) or his grasp on the modern edge of didgeridoo (such albums are a dime a dozen lately), but his comprehensive mix of the two worlds of music. It's a stunning album as such, and deserves a round of listening from anyone espousing to care for either end of the didgeridoo spectrum.

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