Byron Metcalf, Shaman’s Heart II

A drum-driven deep meditation and supra-spiritual launching pad, Shaman’s Heart II is 70 minutes of potent shamanic sound-medicine. A steady heartbeat on frame drum sets a confident-guide pace as Byron Metcalf works to open a space, and the journey along this path continues uninterrupted. Metcalf’s array of drums, rattles and shakers work across a stretch of signature sound-swirls from Steve Roach. Metcalf and Roach both contribute serpentine didgeridoo calls to the mix as well, the throaty sounds imparting the feel of lower-world vistas. (There is a point, about 40 minutes in, where the didges blend with a growling chant and ominous pads–here is where we truly find the gate to the lower world, the realm of the serpent, and its intensity and soul-saturating effect is amazing.)  As with Metcalf’s previous excursions along these lines, the trance-inducing repetition of the percussive elements lulls the mind to openness and the soft soundcurrents help slow the breath; in tandem the elements carry the listener into some very deep places. While this disc can be listened to casually, and it works well, it’s truly meant as a focused medium for guiding you through inner- and lower-world exploration. I can tell you from personal experience that Metcalf’s brain-salving beats are fully effective even in a non-focused listen, neatly displacing reality chunks of minutes at a time. There’s a familiar feel to the disc; Metcalf and Roach are working within the same sonic framework that informs, for example, the set captured on Roach’s Live at SoundQuest Fest, with some tweaking. Shaman’s Heart II also, obviously, follows Metcalf’s sonic algorithm of bringing you into an inner space through drumming, cutting you loose briefly to drift on the Roachian flow, ushering the drums back in like he’s returning your heartbeat to you, then dropping out for the last few minutes to let you very gently float back to the surface of consciousness. The familiarity doesn’t detract at all from the simple, primal beauty in the flow here or the very effective ability of this disc to displace you from your body for a while. Metcalf’s drumming is rich, layered and energetic, and the power it conveys is immediate. I have fallen under its hypnotic, spirit-releasing spell many times since receiving it, and will continue to use it to open my own gates and journey.

Available from Projekt.

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