Peter "Wyoming" Bender,
Canyon Drums: An
Exploration of Native Drumming

(Condor, 1998)

Canyon Drums is a wonderful CD of contemporary Native American music that combines several world music styles with traditional native music. The composition of these pieces contains some of the most intense layering and opposing melodies to be found in the Native American genre. The tunes consistently have incredible depth, and you will want to listen to this CD time and again.

"Rugged Roads" introduces us to the artist with strong drumming, flute artistry and beautifully haunting chanting. He demonstrates his extreme skill with flute techniques and sound quality. His vocals are enchanting and reflect a precision and control seldom equaled. This moderate-paced arrangement is a solid opener for the following selections and sets the atmosphere for what is to come.

"Spirit Mountain" produces a picture of a lone warrior on a vision quest high atop a mountain. The name was ideal for this arrangement. This is a piece for journeying. It will take you places. "Drums Before Sundown" has the most intriguing beginning of all the selections on this CD. The flute is prominent and full-bodied when compared to the others. The vocals are also louder and more leading in this one. It is a slow, beautiful, soothing piece to be played repeatedly.

"Don't Ever Smoke the Right Pipe with the Wrong Man" utilizes prominent keyboarding alternating with a flute solo. The ending is a wonderful slow fade out from bass, drums and chanting to nothing. "Aw-bi-zha-ye (Through the Air)" picks up the tempo and features quite unusual percussion. The flute melody is almost a background accompaniment, sounding like it is at a distance in several places during this piece. The overall tone of this one is mysterious and suspenseful.

"Sundown in Alaska" tosses in whale sounds, water, seagulls and the splendor of the voices of nature. It is a slow, tranquil piece that soothes and relieves stress. If I had to select just one to listen to, it would be this one.

Peter "Wyoming" Bender has lived in America with the Sioux at Wounded Knee and was a member of the Yankton Sioux chapter of the American Indian Movement. He returned to Germany and established the European office of AIM, where he served as the primary representative of AIM. He has recorded several albums since the '60s and got involved in composition while working on soundtracks for several European films.

This CD is a soothing collection of contemporary Native American music that will bring peace and joy to your surroundings. It carries you with the artist to a ceremony to honor Chief Joseph, to an Alaskan harbor and to the Plains with a buffalo herd. You will envision all of these and more as Bender weaves his magic through your mind and soul.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 2 August 2003

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