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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Byron Metcalf Rhythms of Remembering (2021)

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Each track is inspired by the previous one, adding nuances that change the substance and not the form

1 Rhythms of Remembering 9:19

2 Realms of Second Thoughts 7:42

3 Back Alleys and Hard Lessons 7:23

4 Seasons of Shifting Recall 8:54

5 Layers of Holding 8:43

6 The Fifth Reflection 7:32

7 Another Way Home 8:41

(DDL 58:18) (V.F.)

(Tribal ambient music)

Over the years I've become a big fan of these shamanic hand drums that, in skilled hands, sound like helicopter propellers curving upward from ear to ear. RHYTHMS OF REMEMBERING is the latest album from one of the genre's great percussionists, Byron Metcalf. Surrounded by Frore on synthesizers, Sherry Finzer on flute and Erik Wøllo on guitar, Dr. BAM offers a very ambient album, except for the fiery The Fifth Reflection, where each track is inspired by the previous one, adding nuances that change the substance and not the form.

It's an ethereal synth layer, sculpted by Frore, that moves Byron Metcalf's percussions in the opening of RHYTHMS OF REMEMBERING. The flow is airy and attacks the ambiences of the title-track while the meter hasn't crossed a minute. There is an acoustic echo effect that follows the circular motion of the rhythm and the rattling of the shamanic rattles. Mesmerizing, the tribal rhythm follows a circular gradation that gradually erases the scope of the synth layers. For nearly a minute, Dr. BAM is alone to perform a solo of these hand percussions that barely change the dynamism of the rhythm. Invisible on the synth, Frore is nonetheless effective with a sober playing that highlights Metcalf's shamanic spirit. If Erik Wøllo's synthesizer playing is as serene as Paul Casper's, his poignant guitar layers add a prismatic touch while his chords rolling in bright loops give a more harmonious dimension to Realms of Second Thoughts. The drumming manages to make us jump with fascination with an unexpected, louder and more incisive strike that derails us from our contemplative path. While Wøllo's presence has its charms, flutist Sherry Finzer's presence brings a more dryadic nuance to Back Alleys and Hard Lessons, whose Byron Metcalf's playing is more often than not out of tune with the flute's ambient approach. It's more authentic in the middle of the track where his nimble hands stimulate a more heightened pagan dance.

This brings us to Seasons of Shifting Recall where the Norwegian guitarist's sequenced electronic rhythm instills a rhythmic vision that is much more assumed here. Between the sensuality of the slow curves of rhythm and one that is more intriguing collected in the soaring tears of the E-Bow guitar, the percussions sculpt a languorous rhythm of a morphic Blues. Much like Rhythms of Remembering, Byron isolates himself in a drum solo that adds a little more tone to the ambient rhythm after the 5-minute mark. Layers of Holding takes advantage of Frore's presence to lay down an attractive ambient texture that recalls the good times Roach & Metcalf had in their collaborations. The 3 tracks performed with Erik Wøllo are the cornerstone of this album. As long as a collaboration between these two artists would be desirable and would give a quite interesting album. In the meantime, let's gorge our ears with this dual sequencer and hand-percussions in an electronic track that shades the genius of Metcalf who remains in the background, supporting more the frenzied rhythm than driving it. Excellent! Another Way Home is an ambient track performed with the tandem Frore/Finzer. The music relies on distant percussions' strikes from which the resonances get melting to the meditative breezes from the flute and to the anaesthetizing synth layers.

RHYTHMS OF REMEMBERING is two mini-albums in one! Byron Metcalf offers a much more ethereal portion with the presence of Frore and Sherry Finzer, while the 3 tracks with Erik Wøllo evolve from ambient music to good sequencer-based electronic rock. We are far from The Precipice of Choice, but not that much!

Sylvain Lupari (October 8th, 2021) ***½**

Available at Byron Metcalf Bandcamp

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