Coyote Oldman,
House Made of Dawn
(Hearts of Space, 1999)

If you are searching for a spiritual journey, an hour of contemplative meditation with mystical Native American sounds as the background, this recording is for you. Coyote Oldman have made a career of exploring the spiritual side of native flute music, creating music that takes you simultaneously into your inner soul and out into the farthest reaches of outer space. With this music playing, you cannot help but explore the meaning of life, in one way or another.

Coyote Oldman is a sensuous duo of flute performers, combining the traditions of ancient and modern cultures. Michael Graham Allen, the historian, reaches back to the ancient times, studying and modifying the designs of ancient instruments of native peoples. His instrument collection includes New World flutes, medicine flutes, pan pipes and ocarinas. As a builder of flutes, he not only plays instruments that may date back hundreds of years, but also new flutes built hours before recording, designed to play in the exact modal style he has in mind for a particular piece.

Partner Barry Stramp is a classically trained flutist, with great experience in composition. He plays the modern bass flute and the pan pipes on the recording. He also draws on the engineering and physics in his background to create the soundscape and environment necessary to make Allen's instruments have just the right celestial, yet natural, feel when recording. Without Stramp's expertise in sound manipulation, the intangible sound of Coyote Oldman could not exist.

This music would be a poor choice to listen to while driving. It is too relaxing. It would not make good party music, or good music for the active listener. This is the music of contemplation. Lacking much in the way of melody, this is instead a set of improvisation-like sounds, with slightly repetitive themes leading the mind through circles of thought. This is music that must be listened to on a quality set of speakers. Low-grade speakers will turn this sound into chaos, instead of the haunting breath of spirit it is meant to be.

Coyote Oldman's music is nothing if not spiritual. Slow, haunting tones blend together into a montage of sound. Turn this on, sit back, let go of all your earthly troubles, and relax into a state of spiritual oblivion.

[ by Jo Morrison ]

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