Ancient Cultures CD Review
El Camino Real
Produced by Edward Henderson
Recorded at Invincible Studios, Vancouver
Engineered by Keith Stein
Assisted by Hari Singh Khalsa, Alberto San Martin
and Edward Henderson
Mixed at Venture and Mushroom Studios, Vancouver
Mixed by Keith Stein
Mastered at TRAX Audio Productions by Hari Singh Khalsa
The combination of breathy Andean flutes, jazzy vibraphone, zesty acoustic guitars and Central American percussion on this group's Acoustic Mirage release a few years ago peaked the interest of both critics and music lovers. The release of this new album, El Camino Real, (The Royal Highway), sent the message clearly down the full length of Canada's national highway (Route 1) from Lotusland (Vancouver) to the nation's music capitol (Toronto) where the band was awarded a JUNO in 1994 for best world music recording.
This ensemble embodies the most obvious example of the wealth of the Vancouver recording scene. A small innovative distribution company, GRD Recordings/TRAX, has skillfully marketed their music, without a major budget, to the world beyond national borders. The appeal is obvious. The band is composed of an international membership, their music is not west coast rock, west coast country or even west coast folk music--rather it is an outstanding example of what happens when musicians from other cultures interact with Vancouver musicians and recording expertise.
Now that it is possible to simply put your music up on the World Wide Web for people to hear and discover, the message can travel at fibre optic speeds, immediately into the homes of people eager to discover new music. Already, through conventional means of information dissemination and distribution, GRD/TRAX has gotten the music of Ancient Cultures out to a number of markets outside of North America.
A few years ago, WCMR reviewed South American poet David Campbell's Hidden Tears. I spoke with David and was struck by his gentle manner, striking imagery, and his concern for his homeland and for fellow expatriots who were finding a home in Vancouver where their music was able to flourish. Ancient Cultures contributed some tracks to that cassette release. Since that time they have really come into their own.
The magic that occured when Edward Henderson invited Carlos Cortes and his Central and South American pals to contribute music for the film The Elusive Dream speaks for itself. I discovered their music when I acquired a copy of the previous Ancient Cultures release, Acoustic Mirage. This tape has become a regular source of entertainment around our house. Kyle, who is ten years old, really digs it. Ditto for the adults.
Now that we have the El Camino Real CD we have two choices when it comes to new age listening. The spirit of El Camino Real continues the uplifting spirit of Ancient Cultures, dedicated to preserving Andean folk heritage but unafraid of exploring new frontiers of world music.
The cover of El Camino Realis a digitally scanned image of a South American artifact, a true example of modern technology connecting and delivering the past to the present.
Take a stroll down the 'Royal Highway' with Ancient Cultures, you will be wafted back and forth through past and future as gently as a feather in the wind. Throb to the acoustic rhythms of claves, bongos, timbales, congas, the bombo, maracas, charangos, shaken bean pods and rain sticks while being seraded by latin vocals, throbbing acoustic guitars and the distinctive haunting melodic Quena (flute), Zampona (pan pipes) and percussive vibraphone.