2. Threshold of Intention (8:53)
3. Decision Point (7:58)
4. The Call for Total Surrender (20:09)
5. Raven Medicine (10:19)
6. Wisdom Work (11:51)
7. Unfolding Clarity (5:51)
The Shaman’s Heart is a powerful and unique rhythmic and soundworlds trance experience based on the traditional structures of shamanic drumming. The entire journey is built using a collection of buffalo drums, frame drums and rattles, presented as a continuous unfolding rhythmic state starting with lone peyote rattles and eventually evolving into a mandala-like polyrhythmic ecstacy. Fellow traveller, friend and collaborator Steve Roach is also on-board, providing a shapeshifting undercurrent of essential soundworlds and didgeridoo provided to create a balanced sense of support for the intrepid inner traveler. Adding to the experience is the sense that it’s all occurring in a grounded, ceremonial space through the use of sounds from the natural world. This is unlike any of the solo projects or collaborations from Byron and Steve. A perfect example of the notion that “the music is the medicine.”
Review by Frank MacEowen, author and shamanic guide:
“In The Shaman’s Heart , virtuoso percussionist Byron Metcalf takes us on a potent journey into the archetypal depths of shamanic awakening. Blending poly-rhythmic percussion and the hot spark of shaman’s rattles with rainsticks, didgeridoos, the sound of wind, the grokking of ravens, and supported by the sonic wizardry of Steve Roach, The Shaman’s Heart will carry the listener into that place of ancestral memory where the Ancient Ones beckon us to remember the crackling fires, deep forests, and ceremonial caverns where the shaman’s heart was originally born. Whatever our cultural or ancestral background we all have ancestors who were shamans and shamanic practitioners. In The Shaman’s Heart we are reminded of this powerful spirit in each of us; a spirit that is needed on the planet, now more than ever.”
Byron Metcalf – Buffalo drums, bear & peyote rattles, udu & clay pot, frame drums, hybrid toms, various shamanic percussion (seed pods, beads, shells, pottery & stone), spirit winds, hoasca sounds
Steve Roach – Analog and digital soundworlds, didgeridoo, ocarinas, additional shamanic percussion on track 5
The heart is like an alchemical chamber – possessing the power to transform and transmute the fears, wounds, and patterns that block us from always traveling on what Don Juan called ‘the path with heart.’ The ability to remain ‘heart centered’ – to stay connected to one’s compassionate core in the face of adversity and personal challenge is a hallmark of spiritual and psychological maturity. Shamanism is an ancient spiritual system that helps develop the capacity to live fully in the world of the heart. Using ancient and contemporary rhythmic techniques, the intention of The Shaman’s Heartis an invitation to journey into the infinite regions of this heart-space dimension . . . and beyond.
The Shaman’s Heart is a continuous 73 minute journey using varying rhythmic subdivisons of the classic 220 beats per minute journey tempo. The uninterrupted experience is created from a collection of buffalo drums, frame drums and rattles. This time and space altering ceremony is supported with an evolving, breathing atmosphere of subtle contrasting harmonic embraces. Adding to the experience is the sense that it is all occurring in a grounded, environmental space through the use of sounds from the natural world. This potent offering of ‘music as medicine’ can guide and support even the most intrepid of inner travelers.
A review from Bill Binkelman of Wind and Wire
This recording is like taking a trip way up river into the heart of a primitive rainforest ecosystem. I can’t imagine what listening to an album this powerful and primal would be like in a pitch black room on a killer stereo system. I suspect that I’d be a little freaked out (not in a bad way). Metcalf, with assistance from Steve Roach, has delivered a auditory experience that is not just immersive, it’s almost transcendent (and as someone who has chided other reviewers for their use of that word, I’m loathe to bring it up, but I can’t imagine a more apt descriptor).
It’s not just the superb layer upon layer of drums and percussion by Metcalf (buffalo drum, rattles, udu and clay pot, seed pods, shells, et al.). or Roach’s invaluable if not magical atmospheric textures on assorted synths and wind instruments. or the sense of being surrounded by the incredibly vivid nature sounds Metcalf recorded for this album. It’s the way it all fits together like one organic breathing entity, enveloping you so completely that this is like taking a literal voyage up the Amazon. Seldom do I endorse an album this thoroughly, but honestly, if you have ever enjoyed ethno-tribal music even to a moderate degree, The Shaman’s Heart is, well, indispensable and essential. You have to hear this recording. The seven tracks all flow into one another, united by the omnipresent assortment of nature sounds, yet are distinct by the various percussion and drums that Metcalf employs. Some rhythms are fast and fiery (although never to the point that one feels overwhelmed) while others are slow and sensual, but all the drum and percussion work carries an unmistakable air of primal energy as well as mysticism and spirituality. What’s doubly remarkable, at least to me, is how this CD is seldom, if ever, “dark” in the sense that I had no negative feelings creep into my consciousness, such as fear, foreboding, or similar emotions. Based on Metcalf’s liner notes, in which he uses terms such as “music as medicine” and other comments, he seems to be intent on making The Shaman’s Heart an inviting and even healing recording, quite the opposite from the more typical dark ambient/tribal album which I have used to scare little kids at Halloween when they go trick or treating!
While Metcalf’s amazing skills on drums/percussion are doubtless the centerpiece of this musical feast, I can’t stress enough how important a role Steve Roach plays on this CD. He selflessly assumes a posture in the background most of the time and yet his synths (as well as some didge and ocarina) prove to be an addition to the recording whose importance cannot be overstated. His flowing washes and warm drones provide the perfect backdrop and, working in conjunction with the nature sounds, he has woven a tapestry that doesn’t just support Metcalf’s artistry, but complements it in the best sense of the word, i.e. he “completes” the musical illusion of being transported to this lush vibrant land of unending bird calls, passionate drum beats, lush canopies of trees high overhead, gently flowing water, and primitive yet powerful energy which seems to permeate every molecule.
So, excuse my gushing, folks. The Shaman’s Heart is a perfect recording. I couldn’t begin to find fault with it. In fact, just the opposite, as this is as close to a magical experience committed to the recording medium as you’re likely to hear any time soon. My mind boggles at the idea this was created in a studio, as it almost feels like it emerged newborn from the very heart of the jungle itself. There’s little else to say except “Wow!”
Postscript: I didn’t receive this recording until after I had compiled my best of the year list, otherwise this would’ve been way up there near the top!
Review by Frank MacEowen
In The Shaman’s Heart, virtuoso percussionist Byron Metcalf takes us on a potent journey into the archetypal depths of shamanic awakening. Blending poly-rhythmic percussion and the hot spark of shaman’s rattles with rainsticks, didgeridoos, the sound of wind, the grokking of ravens, and supported by the sonic wizardry of Steve Roach, The Shaman’s Heart will carry the listener into that place of ancestral memory where the Ancient Ones beckon us to remember the crackling fires, deep forests, and ceremonial caverns where the shaman’s heart was originally born. Whatever our cultural or ancestral background we all have ancestors who were shamans and shamanic practitioners. In The Shaman’s Heart we are reminded of this powerful spirit in each of us; a spirit that is needed on the planet, now more than ever.