Michael Brant DeMaria - Siyotanka
Michael Brant DeMaria is an interesting combination of professions. He is a musician and psychologist (who of course uses music as part of his therapy). His second instrumental album is Native American-themed. Siyotanka is based on an ancient Indian legend about how the Lakota (Sioux) Indians first discovered how to make and play wooden flutes. A tribal boy on a vision quest meets a woodpecker who pecks holes in the limb of a tree and when the wind blows the boy hears the flute sound for the first time. The music, then, can serve any of us as the backdrop to our own journey of self-discovery.
The music, composed and performed by DeMaria, features a wide variety of Native American wooden flutes, as well as keyboards and native drums and percussion.
The two longest tunes – “The Dream” and “Becoming Takoda” – are both over eight-minutes-long and serve as the cornerstones for the recording with the most far-ranging arrangements and deepest emotional impact. DeMaria should be complimented on his expressive flute-playing, not easy with these flutes that have so few notes in their range. His drumming also is strong and varied. I also like the fact that although he uses synthesized keyboards (sometimes sounding like acoustic guitar or maybe a cello), he keeps it to a minimum. In act, I really only noticed a “synth sound” at the beginning of “Becoming Takoda.” Most everything else sounded genuine and basically acoustic.
This is a warm, eloquent recording with a variety of emotions expressed within the context. The music is persuasive in connotating characters, emotions and nature. I could see DeMaria doing a whole series of these types of recordings based on Native American legends which would be worthwhile in calling attention to and preserving these important cultural stories in an entertaining fashion.