Eric Casillas,
Creation Chant
(Condor, 1994)

Creation Chant is an astounding collection of traditional native chants propelled into the new century by accompaniment with an extreme diversification of percussion and set to a rhythm that is a combination of Native American and West African tribal. Eric Casillas, of Mestizo/Latino heritage, decided on a pan-tribal approach for this CD, with the chant phrases coming from the Lakota, Zuni, Pawnee, Dakota, Winnebago, Kiowa and Mestizo. He selected the words for their sound as well as their meaning.

Check out this man's percussion: rain stick, Yaqui rhythm stick, star rattle, congas, bongos, udu drum, log drum, tom tom, timbales, cymbals, vibra-pod, whistles, African clave and cowbells. Casillas does all the vocals and percussion. He is accompanied by Greg Norris on the fretless bass and Ben Tavera King on keyboards and native flute.

"Warrior's Chant (O Wi Yo)" is from the Pawnee and Winnebago chants. It tells of the warrior's search, riding along looking for the enemy. "Renewal Song (O Waki Ve)" is a Lakota song about healing and renewal. "Harvest Chant (Ne Na Kuvi ne Nakon)" is sung by the Lakota while planting to ensure a bountiful yield. "What I Prophesied (Ho Coka Wan Cicujon)" comes from the Dakota and Winnebago. It is the chant of the warrior that has prophesied to his fellow warriors in the Great Circle.

"Wind Song (Pac-Va-Kea)" is a Kiowa love song about the wind. "Lullaby Gift (Nauku Lade Lade Nauku)" comes from the Lakota and is guaranteed to put the mind at ease and enhance the mood for sleep.

"Clouds & Corn Creator (O Make; Lay)" is from the Zuni culture and is a song to the Creator of clouds and corn. "Creation Chant (Mestizo Vocalizations)" is the story of creation. It has the most prominent Afro-Cuban rhythms and environmental sounds of all the selections. It has several layers of sounds and will fascinate you with its depth. You will listen to it over and over, discovering something new each time.

Casilla's music has a strange effect. It is soothing, yet it energizes you. You will feel your tension and stress being lifted away, replaced by a positive, harmonious force. The chants are almost hypnotic. You will find yourself immediately singing along, even though you have never heard any of them before. You simply cannot resist being swept up by this music and carried right into the rhythm and chant. If you close your eyes, it is easy to picture the Medicine Wheel filled with other dancers.

Casillas made his debut in 1993 with Drumming En La Botanica Magia. He has since worked with the Native Flute Ensemble and Mesa Music Consort.

I am an advocate of the traditional and preservation of the tradition for future generations. Therefore, I have always liked the old, traditional chanting best. But Casillas has changed my mind. I cannot imagine chanting getting one bit better than this. Probably the most important thing about his work is the fact that it is accessible to everyone and does draw the listener into active participation. Get this CD and "break native" with chants about life and love.

Please note that a portion of the proceeds from this CD go to the Taos Pueblo children through the Save the Children Program. Isn't it wonderful to see the needs of Native American children being recognized by these organizations? I commend Eric Casillas and Condor Records.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 4 October 2003

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