Coyote Oldman,
Tear of the Moon
(self-produced, 1987)

Powerful energy runs through these evocative compositions of ancient Incan pan pipes and Native American flutes as performed by Barry Stramp and Michael Allen Graham, the artists comprising the duo known as Coyote Oldman.

Soft but haunting, the lilting flute and pipe duets take you on a voyage through different moods: wistful, somber, even playful at times, but the feel throughout is one of deep, almost meditative mournfulness. It's an almost Celtic melancholy with its light, trilling pipes and deep, lush flute solos. As beautiful as it is sincere, Tear of the Moon is perfect for meditation or writing or just drifting off. It's almost impossible not to relax and find a sense of peace while listening to these mood-softening melodies.

The sincerity of the artists is immediately evident in the opening song: the 10-minute long title track, "Tear of the Moon," starts you off with a gentle swirl of well-sculpted sound that pulls the listener in within a few notes. Followed by the equally epic "Night Voyage," this simply performed but incredibly deep song will keep you floating down the same river of hypnotic sound.

"Zircote" and "Lunar Symphony" are as mesmerizing as their titles suggest, playing lightly over great musical depths. "Silver Pearl" floats you down a gentle river of pipe music played gently and with precision. The simplicity of "Dawn" is deceptive: underneath the playful pan pipes lies a complex melody that doesn't quite manage to overcome the melancholy feel of the CD. Rather, it adds to it, albeit in a rather uplifting fashion. The bonus track, "Night Forest," was previously released on the same-titled Night Forest CD. It finds a harmonious home here in the lovely ebbs and flows of this well-crafted river of sound.

Tear of the Moon manages to create a balance between repetition and variation, giving the listener enough room to explore the spaces in each song. The subtle blend of styles is both serene and sad, but serious enough without drowning in sentiment. More than just relaxing music to listen to, Tear of the Moon can, under the right circumstances, do a bit of consciousness-raising as well. Whether you are in transition from work to home or home to work or need a break within your home, this CD will help you get there. Losing yourself in the ambient melodies is an excellent way to clean out your soul's ears and feel like a human being again.

- Rambles
written by Mary Harvey
published 26 June 2004

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