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Steve Gordon / Deborah Martin — Ancient Power
(Bandcamp Sequoia SQ-9022, 1998, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1999-04-01

Ancient Power Cover art

If track titles like “Wind of Spirits,” “Spirit of the Mountain,” and a page of the booklet dedicated to preserving the ancient traditions of Apache culture don’t clue you in, it should be clear after the first minute or so of the first track that this latest offering on Spotted Peccary side-label Sequoia is an attempt — and a very successful one at that — to fuse the rhythms and spirit of Native American music into the fabric of a modern electronic / acoustic based production. And who better than the team at Spotted Peccary? Recall it was their very first release, In the Land of Power, that chronologued nightfall to sunrise in the Sonoran desert using guitars, flutes, and electronics. Here the material is a mite more percussive oriented, using various hand drums, shakers, turtle rattles, deer hoofs, wood, stones, rainsticks, and bones. Melodic content is provided by lush blankets of synthesizer, native flutes, acoustic and twelve string guitars, and ambient electric guitars. The almost-dreamlike textures that the duo come up with on the title track are nothing short of stunning, yet it’s the more defined guitar based tracks like “Earth Dweller” and “Heart of Fire” that lend the most memorable moments to the production. While Martin and Gordon composed and performed all of the album’s eight pieces, they get a helping hand on several of the tunes from Spotted Peccary regulars Howard Givens and Bertrand Nadel, as well as others. Over the years this writer has heard a number of attempts at fusing Native American music with Western based musical forms, and most have been lukewarm to flat-out failures. Gordon and Martin, and Steve Hahn (see review last issue) are two of the few that truly make the grade. Recommended!

Filed under: New releases, Issue 17, 1998 releases

Related artist(s): Deborah Martin, Howard Givens

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