Coyote Poets,
Unmistakable Evidence
(Square Shaped, 2006)

Eclectic new age/electronica/ambient/spoken-word group Coyote Poets of the Universe has released a third album, Unmistakable Evidence. This group, based in Denver, Colorado, was first formed by Gary Hoover and Andy O'Leary. Over the years, the group has evolved into a 12-person troupe.

The music is attributed to both Gary and Andy, but Andy gets all credit for the poetry. Both guys provide vocals, acoustic guitars, keyboards, percussion, synthesizers and programming. Andy also plays bass while Gary plays electric guitars. Other members of the group include Lisa Zang (vocals), Marissa Molijon (vocals, guitar, kalimba, percussion), Wendy Fopeano (vocals), Neil Haverstick (guitars), Star Edwards (harp, koto, dumbek, guitar, recorder), Kelly O'Dea (violin, hardanger fiddle), Ian Dougherty (vocals, percussion, beatbox), Evan Brown (drums, percussion, keyboards, percussion) and Kate Martin (flute). (I seem to be missing the 12th member of the troupe, but do not see them listed in the liner notes.)

The one track I like to any degree is "Sitting in the Dark." What grabs me is the background, feminine, almost Asian-sounding vocals that occassionally belt out a melodic series of "ahs." The poetry has a few smart phrases such as "Sitting in the dark, about to be a soldier. / If I don't do my job, I'm not getting any older." I generally tune out the spoken-word and listen to the ambient tune.

Another track that I find OK, but a bit repetitive, is the title track. It can definitely be categorized under electronica and reminds me of what was sometimes popular in the late '80s, early '90s, when sound clips from radio and television were repeated ad-nauseum to a techno beat.

High on my list of disliked tracks is "The Trilobite Song." This song is perhaps supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. There is a '60s beach sound going on. The "singing" is a monotone. The lyrics are more annoying than amusing. I cringe when I hear the chorus, "I want to be a trilobite / swim all day and sleep all night / don't have to worry about what is wrong and right / oh to be a trilobite." It is not so much the lyrics as it is the high-pitched background vocals that sound like they belong on a cartoon, not a serious musical CD. But maybe that is the point -- this is not supposed to be taken seriously.

While I can appreciate some of the improvisational sounds of some of the ambient and electronica tracks, I am underwhelmed with those tracks that might be termed poetry-to-background noise. However, I am biased and not a big fan of spoken-word, so to those true fans of the art, take my negative stance with a grain of salt and go make up your own minds. And while I think improv has the potential to create some really great music, the resulting creation can just as likely be terrible. There are tracks on this CD not worth your time. On these particular tracks, the music, if it can be called such, is atonal and lacking in any recognizable melody. Other than a few select tracks, I have avoided listening to Unmistakeable Evidence by Coyote Poets of the Universe.

review by
Wil Owen

15 December 2007

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