David & Steve Gordon

Shaman's Vision Journey

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There are some music buyers out there who will need nothing more than to see the word "shaman" in the title to know that they must have this disc. There are others who will see that word and immediately shy away, especially when they see the jacket copy describing the disc's content as "soothing trance music" that "invites you to remember your own inner peace." It's not clear that David & Steve Gordon are actually party, in any meaningful sense, to the ancient and venerable mystical tradition of shamanism, which raises a question: when it comes to music, especially purportedly spiritual and meditational music, does authenticity matter? The answer is probably that it matters less to the extent that the music itself is the point, and that it matters more to the extent that those selling the music are making claims about its effect on your soul. In other words, if the label claims that its shamanic music will "nourish your meditation" and assist you in taking "a shamanic journey," then the spiritual bona fides of the musicians probably do matter. In this case, the Gordons have, to their credit, made the effort to find actual shamanic material with which to work; each of the four 17-minute-long tracks on this album incorporates actual chants from a variety of mystical traditions, including Aboriginal, Lakota, Mayan, and Sanskrit. The melodies are soothing and understated, the rhythms insistent but gentle, and everything is softened with generous layers of smooth synthesizer. There's not enough difference from one track to another to be worth noting, but that's part of its function: this is instrumental music in the sense that it exists to accomplish a task, not to be evaluated specifically on its musical merits. As for the promised shamanic journey, you may or may not find yourself embarking on one as you listen, depending in part on your listening environment (e.g., home or work). Your mystical mileage may vary.

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