Coyote Oldman

The Best of Coyote Oldman: In Beauty I Walk

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The Best of Coyote Oldman: In Beauty I Walk Review

by Steven McDonald

A Coyote Oldman outing is always a joy to hear. This Hearts of Space compilation consists of some 74 minutes of selections from the six albums released by Michael Graham Allen and Barry Stramp (Stramp was absent from 1987's In Medicine River, where Stramp was joined by Michael Fitzsimmons on percussion.) The Coyote Oldman sound and ethic has something in common with the growing number of Native American flute albums being released to the market, but the comparison stops right there: while Allen and Stramp utilize traditional and native instruments (the majority of them made by Allen, whose custom flute-making is a lucrative sideline), the Coyote Oldman voice is greatly aided by modern recording and sound enhancement technology. This has been taken to extremes at times -- "Thunder Chord" is primary evidence of this -- but the greater use is as an adaptation of the original sound, subtly reshaping it into something grand, somewhere between an audio painting and a sonic metaphor for ritual. Coyote Oldman is well worth hearing; the release of this compilation saves the time needed to seek out most of the existing releases, several of which never saw wide distribution in their first editions.

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