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Hidden Journey

Scott August's latest release Hidden Journey wins
Zone Music Reporter Award for
Best Native American Album of 2013

 

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"August has always been a cut or two above most native flute players... He layers guitars, keyboards and all kinds of percussion into his compositions, moving from world fusion to airy ambiences."
-John Diliberto, Echoes Radio

"It alarms me that an artist of Scott August's caliber managed to release five recordings (his sixth is coming very soon) and I have only now heard his music. Guess I'm not such an icon in the industry after all, am I? I named this to my best of 2007 list, but it's even better than that. I'd place it in my top ten for Native-influenced fusion music, period. Yeah, high praise, but after playing this album at least ten times prior to writing this review, I'm sure it belongs there.

August plays way too many specific instruments to recount here, but among them are flutes (primarily the Anasazi flute which this recording seems to pay tribute to), piano, percussion, guitars, ethnic instruments such as the kalimba gamelan, and "textures" which I take to mean the application of synthesizers in assorted permutations. In this last aspect, August should give lessons to others as his dexterous superb blending of synths adds just the right amount to any song on which it's featured. Never too over the top yet also not so subtle as to make the listener question whether anything has been added at all. He's also an amazing percussionist across the full spectrum of the drums and other instruments which he uses on the CD.

Variety is the catch word here, as Lost Canyons contains everything from the plaintive beauty of the opening "Morning Star" (Anasazi flute, alabaster chimes and textures, the latter two coming into play later in the song) to the lively "Raven Dance" which intermixes percussion from just about every continent with guitar, piano and Tiger Maple flute. And those are just the first two songs on the album!

Not often is a Native flute player so adept at other instruments that he/she can even craft great music without using his/her principle instrument, but August does that on that ambient-esque "Desert Skies" (atmospheric guitar, gamelan, kalimba, Thunder drum and textures). "Where Spirits Dwell" marries tribal beats with Balinese gamelan and the cross-culture fusion is a celebration of the way music bridges disparate cultures. "Swallows & Nighthawks" is the only solo flute song on the CD (although three others feature Anasazi flute with synth textures the only accompaniment), another distinguishing aspect of Lost Canyons from many other releases in this sub-genre (Native flute and Native-influenced fusion).

I could go on describing the other eight selections in detail but my word limit means I have to keep it short. So, I'll just hit on a few more highlights, such as the eight-and-a-half minute title track (meant to convey the viewing of long lost desert native people's dwellings, perhaps along the lines of Arizona's Montezuma's Castle, which I had the pleasure of viewing several months ago). The song showcases August's prodigious talent at balancing all his instruments (in this case, Anasazi flute, kalimba, udu, tabla, guitars, piano, rainstick) fusing them into not just a cohesive musical statement but a unique artistic expression in a subgenre where it's not always easy to stand out. Showing that he can dial up the energy and infuse some more modern touches into his fusion music, "Chasing the Sun" bounces along with kinetic energy, propelled by no less than seven different types of drum/percussion instruments and ambient-like electric guitar flourishes. The two closing tracks, "Twilight Canyon" and "Evening Star" are great conclusions to the album, the former featuring Curly Redwood Bass flute, piano, guitar, textures and "incidental crickets" and the latter only the soothing sounds of Anasazi flute and subtle synthesizer brushings, conveying the fading of daylight in the desert as stars pop out in an orange-then-violet and finally pitch black night sky. It's a perfect ending to the rare perfect recording. No criticisms from me whatsoever on this one. I only wish I had heard of Scott August sooner. Fantastic album - buy it!"

Rating: Excellent

-Bill Binkelman, New Age Reporter

"...engaging, rhythmic, and often mystical moments that captivate and mesmerize the listener. August has a smooth, clean, and polished style using Native American flutes and world instruments to produce a unique and soothing sound.
-Voice of the Wind:
Journal of The International Native American Flute Association

"Fans of earthy Native American flute music alá R. Carlos Nakai or Douglas Spotted Eagle have a new name to add to that list of performers: Scott August."
-Music Design, In Review

"Distant Spirits provides an excellent accompaniment for meditation or yoga, and it is transporting music for simple relaxation and quiet listening. Fans of the Southwest sound should get a kick out of this gorgeous album."
-New Age Retailer Magazine.

Scott August's unique soundscapes of soaring Native American flutes, soft guitars, quiet pianos and soothing drums will take you on a mystical journey.

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