Ron Sunsinger, a Native American tribal artist and musician, joins two space music pioneers on Kiva, an atmospheric re-creation of sacred tribal ceremonies representing the directions of the Four Winds. For the Southwest tribes, a kiva is a circular subterranean structure used for ceremony and ritual; other tribes may use a canopy of trees, the circular space of a Sun Dance, or a cavern. For this recording, Sunsinger obtained, with permission, field recordings of traditional ceremonies. The musicians then brought the kiva space into their music studio. Each wind direction is preceded by an atmospheric passage of chanting, nature sounds, and rattles. "East Kiva: Calling in the Midnight Water" features chanting with the rattles and rapid drumbeats of a peyote ceremony. The space music continues the ceremony to an expanded heartbeat, with horns signaling breakthroughs of thunder strikes. A more celestial space is heralded by organ tones and crickets. Hearing the overlapping layers of sound and the progression allows the listener's mind to travel, while still being connected to the ceremonial music and rhythms. Ghostly voices usher in the passage to "South Kiva: Mother Ayahuasca." Here, breathy whistles and a hypnotic twang of a stringed instrument begin a trance that takes off on one of the most dramatic space blastoffs on record. It climaxes through shouts and ceremonial purging, a sacred song, and whistling; the organ/chanting drone background is very trippy with its sonic infinity pattern of organ tones, chanting, jungle birds, and distorted drumming. "West Kiva: Sacrifice, Prayer and Visions" includes the powerful powwow drumming, singing, and stomped bells of the Native American Sun Dance. The space music collides sounds and rhythms -- a dizzying and hallucinatory clash of reality and illusion. The music then "passes out" and takes the listener on a voyage through a sonic tunnel where all time is suspended. The final "North Kiva: Trust and Remember," recorded in a cavern, thunders with resonant drums and the growls of the didgeridoo. This recording is an excellent introduction to space music and the shamanic experience. You'll find it's not a free ride.
AllMusic Review by Carol Wright