Dancing Into Silence
(Canyon Records)


For years, decades in fact, Canyon Records has remained at the forefront of the Sedona / Desert Southwest New Age music scene. I use the term “New Age” loosely here because the music Canyon releases is often filled with hypnotic imagery of Native American Indian related music filtered through a wide range of instrumental and vocal music that has subsequently earned the name New Age among others. Of course, most Americans don’t really know too much about traditional American Indian culture and music anyway so we have Canyon Records to thank for much of the music that depicts native American culture in these “modern times.” Some of the best Native American music Canyon produces is often heard as a cross between American Indian and World Beat music and that’s the sound right here at the core of Dancing Into Silence—a 2010 CD release on Canyon that features flute genius R.Carlos Nakai in the recording studio with harp guitar great William Eaton and percussionist Will Clipman. You can almost see the smoke signals rising over the desert Southwest but this peaceful, American cross cultural effort offers up a rewarding musical peace pipe that takes you sky high. R. Carlos has brought his Native American Indian flute sound far and wide since he released his million selling Canyon Trilogy back in 1989 and here, once again paired with guitar conceptualist William Eaton, Nakai continues to break new ground with the meditative, peaceful vibes of Dancing Into Silence. When it comes to the harp guitar, Eaton is a fretboard genius whose self-designed instruments and beguiling guitar sounds are at once futuristic and ancient. Clipman’s exotic, ethnic tinged percussion fits in perfectly here. Clocking in at exactly 60 minutes, the 14 track Dancing Into Silence is a stunning sonic achievement designed to soothe your inner spirit and take beyond the happy, hunting grounds and into a deep inner space. A near perfect CD of meditative, calming soundscapes, Dancing Into Silence features appealing cover art and is filled with in depth liner notes on the making of this musical work of art by album producer Robert Doyle. www.william-eaton.com / www.rcarlosnakai.com / www.willclipman.com / www.CanyonRecords.com


Here are some thoughts about our latest CD Dancing Into Silence. Going into the project I had something entirely different in mind. I believed that we would be taking our musicality and improv techniques, honed from years of live performance, to another level. I had imagined interesting and intricate guitar lines and chord progressions to support R.C. flute lines, coupled with the energetic rhythms of Will Clipman's world percussion palette. After two days of recording everything changed. Robert Doyle, our producer, wanted less. And less. And still less. More space. No melodic guitar lines. Simple. This was a difficult challenge. It is not easy to "do nothing." Your first instinct is to be innovative and creative, and showcase some technical proficiency.

The new challenge was in the listening. Listening to R.C.'s flute and the texture of Will's percussion sounds. In past recordings I've always approached the process in this way, but this was a deeper listening. The guitar response was secondary, almost as an after thought. Simple ideas. Just a strummed chord or a repeating arpeggio. And in addition to listening to my collaborators, it was equally important to listen to the space surrounding each note. With the exception of one song, all of the recorded pieces were played in open tunings, to give added resonance and sympathetic vibration to all the intervals and doubled notes, especially with the open non-fretted strings and chords. I also used my new double neck harp guitar on many of the songs, to give the suggestion of a call and response from two different guitars. If you listen carefully you can hear this, since they're each panned about seventy five percent to left and right.

As we proceeded with this intent, the focus began to accentuate the special timbral qualities of the various stringed instruments played on this recording, with additional awareness placed on where on the string a pick was used, or the tips of fingers, to give different attack and sound quality.

As in meditation, the ego drops from the process. There's no pride or sense of achievement in the result, just an observation or awareness, and being within the music, and allowing some 'true nature' to be expressed. One could say that there is a feeling about the music, and still, a conversation among friends.

If a listener can follow a similar process in becoming less busy, less internal dialogue, and finding a quiet space within, this music can perhaps provide a sonic soundscape for the journey. As one of my teacher's once remarked, "eternity is all around us, within us, right now."


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