Saturday, 29 January 2011

Shaman Mirror Medicine Tree - Rich Goodhart

Music which heals – not healing Music.

Ever since the Beatles musicians have experimented with exotic musical instruments. As studio recording techniques became more sophisticated so experiments with pure sound developed. Some flirted with it Santana’s Caravanserai, Page/Plants No Quarter and Crimson’s Larks Tongues give us a peak into this world.

More significantly John McLaughlin produced a series of wonderful music with Shakti using world instruments whereas Brian Eno became known really as a “sound musician” and much of Peter Gabriel’s music mined this fertile area. Later on new age music gave us this notion of healing music and when I travelled to Canada in the 90’s I noted you could buy a wide range of nature CD’s which evoked a sense of calm and relaxation. Ravi Shankar takes us all the way back to the Beatles and his daughter Anouska has offered a kind of very intelligent cross over update.

Rich Goodheart’s new CD Shaman Mirror Medicine Tree is 109 minutes of "sound poems" where the notes work over time to evoke an opening up into a world of clarity and calmness.The sounds he evokes alone are seductive and enticing and if you have a mind to listen and open up and let go you will find your intellectual fascination satisfied and come out smiling. Rich a long time fan of Yes teams up with Jon Anderson their quintessential band leader and vocalist up until his respitory attack in 2008, for one chant.

The opening piece is typical, creating mystery with its revolving drone and flute sound weaving in and out of the ether with tinkling bells. This is not soporific healing music this is thought provoking music which heals and then comes the lilting percussion run and the glissando guitars I imagine myself deep in the desert in a place of purity and clarity. But the music has fire in its belly and as the percussion picks up speed the jews harp interplays with the guitar and it all grows in vigour and strength and then the piece touch’s down a gentle percussion leads to the final drone.
On the Dark Sea of Awareness is full of mystery and with the wonders of technology the remarkable clean production puts Rich in the room as he sets up the rhythmic chant using all manner of exotic percussion.
Weaving Luminous Strands opens with the same sound palate as Crimsons Larks Tongues In Aspic Tibetan Bowls and more gorgeous glissando guitar from Daevid Allen.
The title track sounds important echoing percussion and flute sounds set up the mood and then another treat an exotic stringed instrument searching questioning gradually finding the truth of the melody which is quite beautiful, then percussion to accentuate the rhythm and finally the human voice calm warm with a surging chant. It is not trying to impress or astonish you it is trying to draw you in, communicate and leave you fulfilled which of course is astonishing!
The music is brave, 14 minutes of Bouzouki Meditation and 10 minutes of Tibetan Bowls beautiful exercises in unadorned communication, gentle and rich in melody State of Grace and exciting in an intriguing way Shadow Wings on Moonlit Waters.
There is a live performance of the chant segment of Moon Ra from Jon Anderson’s best effort Olias which only reinforces the idea that the whole piece should be presented live by an ensemble and he sings his own lyrics on the gentle work out Good Love Coming.

This isn’t chart topping, global world tours music but if every day several people are introduced to this world then their intellectual curiosity will be satisfied and their heart will beat more gently.

To purchase this CD which is essential every day listening for me, visit

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