Phil Thornton

Shaman

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Synthesizer composer Phil Thornton reaches into arcane times for this intensely colorful shamanic ceremony in sound. Keyboardist Thornton also plays many acoustic instruments-recorder, chicken flute, beapod and rainstick, and bamboo pipe--and incorporates that most primitive of instruments, the didgeridoo (Darren Green), and the frightening sounds of the Tibetan thigh bone (Mike Rogers). David Roberts keeps the all-important beat going. The album opens with a frenzied tribal circle dance, "The Healing Circle." The album moves into more ominous territory, with a buzzing Jew's harp, gutteral chanting, night animal sounds, a ghostly gong, wolf huffs, coyote howls, and assorted creaks and thunder claps. "Cloak of Darkness" is free of both melody and rhythm, so you are on your own with the spirit world. (But, that's the shaman's way, after all.) The final piece, more than 25 minutes long, drives the night spirits back with great grunts of the didgeridoo and the blasts of the thigh trumpet. Gradually, strong rhythms are restored, and a flute wails a melody, for an infectious tribal celebration. The album ends with thunder claps and peaceful, cleansing rains--but about those few wolves howling in the distance? Shaman's two movements will inspire you to dance, while the central shamanic voyage will make you wish you had eyes in the back of your head.

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