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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Byron Metcalf Adventures in Synaptic Exploration (2022)

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

One remains constantly seduced by the diversity of his aboriginal rhythms

1 Waves of Preparation 9:04

2 Adventures in Synaptic Exploration 7:37

3 Burundi Dreams 9:53

4 Arrival of the Elves 9:07

5 Conscious Encounter 9:15

6 Leaning in to it 10:23

7 Water Dance Ceremony 8:05

(DDL 63:27) (V.F.)

(Tribal rhythmic music)

A buzzing and misty whisper adorns the opening of Waves of Preparation which takes a dramatic and cinematic tangent when the first percussion are resounding. They secretly organize this percussive impulse that will go around our headphones when the track stops dithering a little before the first minute. And like a man with six hands, the shaman from Prescott Valley, Arizona plows a furious rhythm with touches running over floating synth layers, reverb waves, throat chants and whispers thrown through a didgeridoo. How to portray a music so beautiful and yet so different? In a sonic setting as enchanting as top notch, Byron Metcalf presents his new album-download with all the necessary tools to make us dance to furious aboriginal rhythms. Unlike Rhythms of Remembering, ADVENTURES IN SYNAPTIC EXPLORATION offers nothing less than 63 minutes of buzzing, swirling rhythms in a Native American savannah where the spirits are shedding their body shells. And they have no choice! The percussions are titanic on fire rhythms where the acoustic instruments of the first peoples are honored. And when it is not about fire rhythms, like in Water Dance Ceremony, they become instruments of hypnosis. As for the sound panoramas, Dr. Bram has put in a lot of effort with Paul Frore Casper and Dashmesh, who was on The Precipice of Choice, to use their mastery of synths in order to create soundscapes that match the furious percussions that are not meditative, haunting yes, but not meditative for two cents. Joel Olivé completes the trio with his throat singing, polyphonic singing and rain sticks. The title-track features these chants and the didge wandering on the most bewitching rhythm of this album. The percussions provide driving rhythms with surprisingly conflicting bursts that spice up the listening experience while adding percussive relief that charms an eager mine.

Burundi Dreams is a superb track that receives the support of Joel Olivé on modular synth. Its texture is as unique as its rhythm can be bewitching. The structure has that essence of dynamic meditation with a semi-slow rhythm initially adorned with flickers of stars that crumble into tonal dust. They shine in the dark firmament of this dramatic opening where the rhythm takes its slow flight that is encircled by meditative Native American chants. The percussions on this gorgeous track are thundering with a melodious candor to hypnotize the most recalcitrant among you. Without doubt the most beautiful track here with the very electronic Leaning in to it and its thunder of percussions on a frenetic structure of spasmodic sequences. Arrival of the Elves proposes a texture more centered on the development of the atmospheres than the rhythm. The polyphonic chants and the long effects of low drone lines swirl like long guttural lassos which float between two layers of a rhythm which wants to be more and more driving. A magical track where the spectres of the night are more omnipresent. A long raucous reverb effect initiates Conscious Encounter. This droning synth line hardly exhales its last breath when Byron Metcalf's acoustic percussions start to get excited just after the first minute. The rhythm is as fluid than deliciously slow. The percussions nibble our ears only to receive those spiral guttural chants that rise and fall like the hovering of a large bumblebee struggling against the strength of the winds. The power of the percussions is intoxicating to the point that our ears focus only on this haunting rhythm that becomes alienated by these long laments of the raucous songs of its opening. Sherry Finzer comes to make her native American flute sing on the hypnotic structure of Water Dance Ceremony. That flute also measures up to those raucous chants that buzz like a sequenced didgeridoo in a savannah dusted by a circle of dancers singing for rain.

Even knowing the world of Byron Metcalf's tribal trance rhythms, we remain constantly seduced by the diversity of his aboriginal rhythms. ADVENTURES IN SYNAPTIC EXPLORATION offers nothing less than 7 consistently catchy rhythmic adventures. When it's not for the feet, it's for the mind, if not for the music which takes unsuspected tangents in this other musical odyssey of the Arizona shaman.

Sylvain Lupari (March 6th, 2022) ****½*

Available at Byron Metcalf Bandcamp

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