When looking back at the year 2016, this was undoubtedly an enormously triumphant and strikingly fruitful period of time for shamanic par excellence drummer Byron Metcalf. Firstly, just within a few days, two phenomenal albums "Earth Luminous" and "Shamanic Trance Dance" were released, the first one as a collaborative project with Norwegian ambient guitar virtuoso Erik Wøllo on Projekt, while the other one "Shamanic Trance Dance" on Sounds True features several kindred spirits from across the globe as guests. Both these albums certainly belong to the pinnacles of 2016, but the story is still not complete... "Inner Rhythm Meditations" CD, released on Sounds True at October 1st, 2016, in an attractive 6-panel eco wallet with extensive liner notes, resurrects once again the synergistic spirit with Erik Wøllo and the team is completed by a Grammy Award and Native American Music Award nominee, a world flute wizard Peter Phippen from Wisconsin. What a line-up!!! The additional credits go to Sounds True producer, Mitchell Clute, as well as to Liv Khalsa at Invincible Recording for his mastering experiences.
The opening piece, wonderfully entitled "Garden Of The Peaceful Warrior", which clocks over 10 minutes, unfolds with quietly expansive washes by Erik Wøllo, which are propelled by sublime drumming, both heavier and gauzy, by Byron Metcalf and Peter Phippen's gorgeously evocative flute calls. The trio immediately sets their creative insignias into absolute equilibrium and the listener enters a truly magnificent sonic Eden, where he/she is welcomed by a large dose of aural ambrosia. Pure beauty!!! "As Clouds Dance" is only several seconds shorter than its predecessor, keeps tightly on the path, but this time more translucent udu beats steal the center stage, although always commingling with bulkier frame drums, while hissy desolations are clandestinely glancing on the horizon. Weeping blankets slowly emerge and permeate across along with gently shimmering pulses. Ear-tickling gossamer, yet razor sharp groovy gallops join the spectacle as well and persistently interact with drum/udu magic and utterly engrossing and warmly panoramic elevations. The track title is exquisitely displayed by the passionate musicianship!!! Erik's lushly lyrical strings announce "Patterns Of Awareness", but the percussive vibrancy by Byron soon levels the score along with Peter's poignant bansuri narrations. A quite laid-back, yet intensely magnified and insistently absorbing ride awaits here, bravo, gentlemen!!! "A Perfect Place" delves into quieter terra incognita sceneries, reinforced by cavernously crystalline echoes of udu, pungently galvanizing drums, ethereally embracing E-bow magic, emotive stringed vistas and hauntingly enveloping shakuhachi cushions. A genuine magic by three sonic curanderos in full bloom!!! "The Awakened Heart", covering 11 and a half minutes, shifts the splendor into another, spellbindingly fascinating altitude when masterfully merging engulfing panoptic reflections, healing flute serenities, intangibly pulsing cinematic motifs and vigorously high-spirited drumming. The driving mixture of ponderously punching drums and pellucid udu balm is just breathtakingly immersing and it meticulously completes this splendiferous composition. It's strongly evident, Byron Metcalf, Erik Wøllo and Peter Phippen deliver here the very top of their celebrated artistries, beyond question, "The Awakened Heart" is a Hall Of Fame performance!!! The longest piece, 15-minute "Presence Of Longing", closes this awe-inspiring, 65 minutes long journey with meditatively repetitive deep bass drum beat carefully bridged with cascading epic quietudes, introspectively embracing flute curtains and transient breezy strings. A sonorously contemplative outro!
"Inner Rhythm Meditations" album is another giant sonic installment sculpted by Byron Metcalf and graced by thrillingly gifted contributions by like-minded spirits Erik Wøllo and Peter Phippen. And the sound quality is top-notch too! Thank you, Maestros, for such virtuosic dream team brilliance, congratulations and deep respect for this milestone!!! So it's quite obvious recording like this gets one of my nominations for Best Album of 2016, while "Earth Luminous" and "Shamanic Trance Dance" are already included! And regarding Byron's connection to Sounds True, a 6CD program based on his Shaman's Heart Meditation Series is in the works for a release during the spring of 2018.
Richard Gürtler (May 29, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia) (Posted on May 30, 2017)
I feel the depth of the healing and 'knowing' potential of this music. So powerful, yet also so inviting and supportive, offering the listener the opportunity to experience so much more than their/our everyday experience. Refreshing, gently challenging, and loving.
Thank you for the opportunity to express!
(Posted on February 3, 2017)
While a lot of new age meditation music is ethereal, percussionist Byron Metcalf’s new album utilizes the power of rhythm to create a deeply meditative listening experience that is further enhanced by the exquisite accompaniment of Erik Wollo on ambient guitar and keyboard, and Peter Phippen on Eastern flutes. Byron uses his 20 years as a shamanic practitioner, transpersonal guide, and educator to imbue his music with authenticity based on his extensive knowledge of states of consciousness. Through his relaxed yet soulful rhythms, one is drawn in and entrained to “the pulse of the cosmos.” The album, subtitled: “Music For Expansive Awareness and Inspired Movement,” provides an hour-long voyage balancing stretches of spacious relaxation with sections that is perfect for bodywork, movement practices such as walking meditation and qigong, and promoting a state of relaxed, alert creativity.
The album’s opening track finds us in the “Garden Of The Peaceful Warrior,” where Erik’s serene synthesizer soundscape provides a dreamy ambiance for the grounding energy of Byron’s drumming and Peter’s haunting flute sounds that drift over them. There is a real sense of the meeting place of earth and sky as these elements combine. While the percussion creates a feeling of motion, it is quite laid back and meditative, entraining the listener in the song’s easy flow. One thing I really liked was the skillful way that Byron integrated a variety of drums into his rhythmic grooves in the songs. These instruments include frame drums, bass drums, talking drum, udu, and clay pot, that produce an exhilarating and exotic mix of percussive patterns and timbres.
While there are only 6 songs on the album, they are quite lengthy, ranging from 9 to 15 minutes, which is just right for enabling the listener to lose themselves… or find themselves, as the case may be, in its unfolding. On “The Awakened Heart,” an intriguing combination was the exquisite interplay of a gently percolating electronic sequence and Byron’s earthy drumming over a spacious sonic tapestry, blended with Erik’s repeating arpeggiated chords, and the most peaceful flute passages imaginable. The interestingly titled “Presence Of Longing” brings the album to a tranquil conclusion in this extended 15-minute piece that is the most meditative track on the album.
A central theme that is present in both Byron’s psycho-spiritual work and his music is the role of “intention.” That is something which was strongly felt as I listened to his percussion work… a clear intention behind it that goes beyond merely keeping the beat, and is consciously focused on creating a state of being in the listener. Byron Metcalf’s drumming speaks in a language that is understood by the body and the soul, creating an inner resonance that is visceral. And the masterful blend of creative elements that Erik Wollo and Peter Phippen bring to the mix result in a level of sonic alchemy that I found to be truly transcendental. Inner Rhythm Meditations is musical magic that is simultaneously relaxing and uplifting.
To read a full-length feature article on this album, please visit: MichaelDiamondMusic.com
(Posted on November 13, 2016)
I love this new solo album by Byron Metcalf. The musical accompaniment feels like a colorful manifestation of the natural world. The rhythmic pulse of the percussion instruments creates a soft and flowing movement, as from a deep wellspring of peace, bringing forth mystical revelations from the "sacred heartbeat of the earth." This music deeply moves me in every sense of the word. (Posted on August 28, 2016)