The music of Patrick Bernhardt has already reached out to thousands of people in deeply personal ways. This intimate connection will continue to grow with the release of Shamanyka -- but his music as an art form has made a dramatic shift. Moving toward rhythmic motion and full-bodied vocal expression, Bernhardt shows an ever-widening skill for creating dramatic settings in which to place his potent chanting. While ethereal hues, instrumental textures and multi-layered vocal passages continue to underscore many of the tracks, Shamanyka is, in a word, ritualistic. The tracks include chants, as before, with their basis in Vedic/East Indian rituals. There are also four Native American chants, from Sioux, Modoc, Hopi and the Grey Flute clan tribes, one traditional African chant, an Islamic-Sufi incantation, and a Jewish/Hebrew Kabbalistic exorcism, called "Adonai." There are two CD-only tracks: "Samsara," with its mystical yearning, and a second version of "Adonai," with a glowing, processional tempo and sparkling guitar. Each piece begins with one distinct sound; sometimes a plaintive piano, elsewhere furious hand drums, crickets or simply the voice. Then melody and pace are established and begin to intertwine and change as the keyboards, percussion and fretless bass frame the delicate guitar that focalizes each track. At times the sound ventures into rock terrain, and pulsating rhythms dominate portions of several pieces. His voice covers the full extent of his range, exerting intricate inner control while casting his gorgeous voice freely outward. Bernhardt has found a point of true power. His musical statements on Shamanyka clearly communicate the vast possibilities of this unique hybrid of varied cultural origins.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by AllMusic