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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Byron Metcalf The Precipice of Choice (2020)

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Great ambient tribal music from start to end and where my ears never heard a second of boredom

1 The Precipice of Choice 9:02

2 Hope is not a Plan 9:57

3 Interior Excavation 9:37

4 Requiem for the Decaying Remains of Hubris 8:45

5 Calling Huachuma's Medicine Spirit 10:24

6 A Final Warning 10:23

7 At the end, It's only you 12:37

(CD/DDL 70:51) (V.F.)

(Tribal Ambient Music, Trance rhythms, Meditative Music)

The recent planetary events, as much at political level as mass denunciations or even global warming and finally the global pandemic linked to the corona virus, are as worrying as disturbing on the daily life of every person on Earth. Surrounded by a good list of guest artists, including Steve Roach, Mark Seelig and Dashmesh, Byron Metcalf exposes his vision on these different issues hoping that the listener will develop his warrior heart which is inside of us all so to activate a global mobilization aiming to reverse and counter these important challenges which threaten our survival…

The first percussion hit comes around the 20 seconds of sinuous reverberation waves, of drones. This blow dictates the cadence of a panoply of percussions which dig the bed of the title track of Byron Metcalf last album. The rhythm is frantic, but strangely magnetizing. We don't dance there, but I strongly imagine a mass of seated body that gets carried away in a spiritual trance with The Precipice of Choice. I have always loved percussions, so the link with the music of the one we nicknamed Dr Bam was very easy to solidify with the rediscovery of his musical style by the album Persistent Visions last year. We find the same posology there, since we are talking about medicinal music here, on THE PRECIPICE OF CHOICE which offers 7 tracks clocking the nearly the 71 minutes of this album offered in manufactured CD and for download on the Bandcamp site by Byron Metcalf. Except that this title evocative of the pessimistic vision of Dr Bam is not entirely transposed to his music whose ambiences are linked to very lively percussion. Dashmesh brings his rather morose electronic panoramas on this track, with his fascinating didgeridoo game which, uniting with the overtone songs of Mark Seelig, winds the multiple talents of drummers of Dr Bam on Hope is not a Plan. Present on the first 5 tracks of the album, Steve Roach completes the electronic setting with a discreet presence which is more felt in the musical background of Interior Excavation. This title is magnificently animated by shamanic rattles whose lines become blurred when they begin to spin like spiritual lassos above our ears. A title that I liked from the first percussive sha-ka-sha-ka-kan. After a rather slow start, Requiem for the Decaying Remains of Hubris takes a rhythmic flight equivalent to the spiritual trance of the title-track. Dashmesh's didgeridoo is incredibly bewitching here and his throaty chant follows the increasingly frenetic curve of the pagan rhythm of this track which makes the rhythmic reflections of The Precipice of Choice much paler. Let me tell you that we are running towards the precipice here.

Calling Huachuma's Medicine Spirit takes us to another level. It's a slow, rather ambient title with a good background of meditative EM where we hear the murmurs of the Spirit Winds, played by Byron Metcalf. Don Oscar Miro-Quesada comes to recite a prayer and a medicinal song which surprised me with a very palpable candor. Aboriginal sorcerer's rattles tinkle and resound violently around this chant which evaporates in the atmospheres of a title supported in its last third by hypnotizing percussions. Intense and magnetizing, A Final Warning is literally a hymn of war. The percussions thunder for this motto, while the lassos of the didgeridoo, Dashmesh is mind-blowing throughout the album, and the tchouk-tchouk-tchouk-tchouk's shaman rattles sharpen our senses, already well awakened, in order to create this spiritual chemistry which gives rise to all mobilization. The decor continues to be enriched with different elements including a strange incantatory murmur that ties us to our headphones. At the end, It's only you, says it all! Musically, it's the most intense title with a frenzied tribal trance from THE PRECIPICE OF CHOICE. In fact, it's a long percussions solo supported by the charms of the didgeridoo, Steve Roach even weaves loops effects of the didge. I don't know if Byron Metcalf has recorded multi layers of him drumming percussions, but there is not a second without a drums here, even that some have an elastic effect which contribute to a more harmonic vision. An intense title that ends an album where my ears never heard a second of boredom. Great ambient tribal music from start to end!

Sylvain Lupari (July 19th, 2020) *****

Available at Byron Metcalf Bandcamp

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