David Parsons


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Musician and ethnomusicologist David Parsons has been responsible for bringing some of the world's most hidden and forgotten music to the fore. He has been a pioneer in so many different ways it would be difficult to list them all. He has recorded volume upon volume of Asian, Middle Eastern, North African, and South American musics in the field and has made his own recordings based upon his experiences in those places. As a recording, Shaman was influenced by the writing of G.I. Gurdjieff, Madam Blavatsky, and the art of Nicholas Roerich. Parsons states in his liner notes that "In composing the music I imagined a gathering of mystics, headed by a high shaman, at night in a remote desert valley. The recording is my impression of a complete ceremony where mantras are chanted and dervishes are whirling in ecstatic trances to the rhythm of the music." Fair enough. But using a Kurzweil K2500 synthesizer to evoke such an organic event? That's the contradiction of Parsons. He uses strange lines and rhythmic phrases to evoke mantras being chanted, others for drums, still others for communal singing. But instead of coming off as a sonic evocation of a dream time continuum experience, it sounds like a world music version of mid-'70s Tangerine Dream. Sure, there are melodies and harmonic features of many different shamanic cultures here. There are inventive, heavily chorded architectures that the listener would swear are sampled choirs of human voices. And, if this were an IMAX film, it would work just fine as ear candy with mythological and unfamiliar images assaulting the viewer. But as listening, it comes off as just another exotic electronic record. A good one, mind you, but by creating such an ambitious (read: pretentious) goal, it can't help but fall short. Good but dated atmospherics and interesting "songs." Better than Deep Forest, but still a questionable purchase unless you are a major fan.

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