Boomkat Product Review:
Renowned Native American flutist Timothy Archambault adapts Anishinaabeg shaking tent chants on these stark, unaccompanied flute solos. 'Chìsake' is rare, deeply affecting music that arrives steeped in historical and cultural significance, singing of an age of North American art that's been sidelined for far too long. Transportive sounds for anyone who enjoyed Fis's collaborations with Rob Thorne or even Mary Jane Leach's "(F)lute Songs".
Archambault is a well-known and studied player, composer and architect who's recorded for the Smithsonian National Museum. "Chìsake" means to chant or to conjure, and on this moving selection of solos, he reworks Anishinaabeg ritual music used for divining. The Anishinaabeg are a group of indigenous peoples who now live in the USA and Canada, and would sing chants, accompanied by drummers, in shaking rituals performed by a shamen to connect the world of humans to that of meditating beings. The sounds were considered an aid in reaching the transcendent state, where the specially trained shaman, known as Chìsakewininì, could gain insight into the past, present or future.
Across 24 pieces, Archambault shares his understanding of the form, mutating chants as each is repeated seven times to represent the seven sacred directions: east, south, west, north, above/sky, below/earth, and center. Recorded on its own, the flute takes on an impressive characteristic, mimicking the rich tonality of the voice but retaining its own eerie resonance. And there's little else like it; Ragnar Johnson's recordings of sacred flute music of New Guinea, also released on Ideologic Organ, shares similarities, as does Rob Thorne's haunting Māori wind music, but what Archambault manages here truly stands on its own.