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Tales From the Ultra Tribe

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 15, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

After two years pushing the creative edges, Tales From the Ultra Tribe emerges as a fire-breathing life form. The deep trance-shamanic-atmospheric collaboration between Steve Roach and Byron Metcalf evokes the primordial caverns and aeon-blasted landscapes of their groundbreaking The Serpent's Lair (Projekt, 2000).

And yet on Tales From the Ultra Tribe, a new sound emerges.

It's a lucid trance-groove experience, a searing combination of acoustic percussion and hyper-dimensional electronic rhythms. The Ultra Tribe are the future primitives: the future-tech foundation wrapped by the organic. It's no longer clear where the human ends and the machine begins.

The elements of this sound are Steve's complex hybrid-grooves overlaid by Byron's primal, fluid and organic - yet precise - frame drums and percussion. It's an atmosphere of shifting soundworlds in which the forms of the Ultra Tribe exist. An alchemy of electronic sequencers, drum machines and percussion locks in the groove, while the human element jumps in and out of the steady pulse, giving the music a passionate intensity. The elements are deftly shaped to a point of complete integration where the final result is transformed into a living breathing body with an electro-organic soul.

As one the original architects of the tribal-ambient genre, Steve Roach's innovations are mapped out on the landmark albums Origins, Artifacts, and Dreamtime Return, along with releases from the Suspended Memories trio and the more recent Fever Dreams series. Similarly, Byron Metcalf s tribal-shamanic albums Helpers, Guides & Allies, Not Without Risk, The Shaman s Heart, and A Warning From the Elders, serve as a benchmark for deep journey exploration. In the late 90's, Steve teamed up with Byron, and over the span of a dozen years they've created an array of releases that explore and push the outer edges of shamanic-electronic tribalism.

The eight pieces on Tales From the Ultra Tribe are built into a seamless 74-minute deep-journey experience. Adding to the overall impact is a high resolution sound achieved through masterful recording and mixing techniques. With a multi-dimensional trance-groove trajectory, the sound is a tribal-electronic well of experience. A continuous kaleidoscope of visionary power, mystery and visceral awe envelops the listener. The synergistic alchemy of Steve s and Byron s work fuses to new levels of audio-induced, mind-expanding music.


Longtime collaborators Steve Roach and Byron Metcalf first pooled their respective talents in 2000 for The Serpent's Lair and have continued to do so repeatedly in the years since, with the recorded output sometimes featuring a third member such as Mark Seelig or Dashmesh Khalsa. Tales From the Ultra Tribe could, however, be seen as the long-gestating follow-up to The Serpent's Lair, given that Roach and Metcalf share equal billing and are the musicians solely responsible for the seventy-four-minute journey. The accompanying press info characterizes the album's sound as shamanic-electronic tribalism, and that's probably as good a descriptor as could be provided for the material's trance-inducing, electro-acoustic sound. Armed with all manner of percussive gear (frame drums, rattles, shakers, clay pots, etc.), Metcalf takes care of the rhythmic side, while Roach deploys an array of synthesizers, drum machines, electronics, and other sounds to generate the dense, synthetic-atmospheric dimension.
That Tales From the Ultra Tribe is intended to be experienced as a journey is indicated by track titles such as Setting Forth and Road From Here and by the tracks' uninterrupted flow. Despite the fact that shifts in tone and atmosphere do arise (compare the hyperactive urgency of Road From Here to the languid humidity of Fire Sky Portal as one example), a fluid pulse is present as an undercurrent tying the eight tracks together. That Roach and Metcalf are long-time collaborators is borne out by the recording as it seamlessly blends their contributions and does so with a well-measured degree of balance: Metcalf's primal rhythms are omnipresent but neither dominant nor submissive; Roach's synthetic patterns and atmospheres are likewise prominent yet not so much so that they overwhelm the percussive sounds. Interestingly, the deep plunge into future-primitivism taken by the duo (especially on a representative track such as The Magma Clan ) isn't that far removed from the work Paul Schütze released during the mid- 90s as part of Virgin's Ambient series (1995's Apart and 1996's Abysmal Evenings) so listeners fond of that particular ambient-tribal style should find Tales From the Ultra Tribe to their liking, too. --Textura

One of the first musicians willing to tackle the problem of tribal percussion in environmental contexts was Hassell a long time ago: from that moment the synthetic manipulation of that kind of percussive sound went through many evolutions. In 2000, Steve Roach joined with a specialist of shamanic drumming, Byron Metcalf, a professor of transpersonal psychology, to make way for a project that combined his vein of musical archaeologist with tribalism and shamanic practice: the result of this artistic union gave birth to The Serpent's Lair, the first product of a series of recurring collaborations, which will be a good change of direction for Roach and the full affirmation in the music community for Metcalf.
Of course the drumming activity of Metcalf was based on the findings that occurred in the technology of digitization and it reflected a cultural identity that many scholars saw in some geographic locations of our planet (so there should be the same matrix among the primitive peoples of Africa , of Australian Aborigines and the native tribes of the Americas): The Serpent's Lair tried to find an agreement between antiquity and the modern, and the idea, though it was rather guessed, however, was influenced by the tastes of 'listener: If you accept the musical project in its aesthetic essence then you could discover the "electronic" drumming of Metcalf, sometimes ordinary, sometimes as precious as a source of energy, which insinuates the rituals, leads the ceremonies and digs into acoustic resonances of the caves, a favorite place for the experiences of deep listening close to the theory of Oliveros.

After The Serpent's Lair Metcalf and Roach continued to explore the theme several more times (six) searching for a link between ambient music, spirit-tribalism and shamanism of many areas of the world (especially Asian and American): the musical portraits of this mysterious and elusive human delegation are immortalized in a perfect patchwork of representation, similar in content but very interesting as a project, the design of an architect of sound that is something more than the mere display of events. In this sense, albums like Mantram or Nada Terma demonstrate the ability to organize the compositions in a way that not even The Serpent's Lair had, while the two volumes of Shaman's Heart bask in the ecstatic-percussive journey.

Tales from the Ultra tribe, born as a hypothetical continuation of The Serpent's Lair, begins with "Setting Forth", percussions for a rite that seems to accept today's technology and relentless beat with wind and dust dispersed, in "Noble Direction" Roach invents a beautiful drone fading continuously absorbed by the obsessive rhythmic structure, "Midnight Migration" includes inside electronic bits, while "Magma Clan" is an updated version of the puzzles rhythmic of Hassel. The tribal frenzy of "Road from Here" is tempered by the combination -ethereal-technology- offered by "Fire Sky Portal"; the shamanic breath is felt in "Return of the Dragon Bone Tribe" which is the last ritual before the final and mysterious "In the Safety of Travel", final act of a collection of songs that unlike the last production of the two American musicians, indicates a less technical way to communicate, more sensitive, a declaration of independence of spirit, the survival of the natural values and their sharing with the world's future totally controlled by the input of computers. -Ettore G. --Percorsi Musicali:

La supercoppia composta da Steve Roach e Byron Metcalf aveva rappresentato, fino ad oggi, uno di quei casi di simbiosi tanto cercata e mai veramente sbocciata. Nei quattro lavori composti assieme di cui due soli eseguiti senza l'ausilio di altri collaboratori - i due avevano spesso finito col sovrapporre e togliere spazio a vicenda alle proprie peculiarità sonore. Fra le loro testimonianze congiunte, l'unica degna di una particolare nota era stata Nada Terma, disco composto a sei mani con Mark Seelig che puntava la lente d'ingrandimento su misticismo ed esoterismo, senza per questo eccedere nel manierismo percussivo delle altre tre prove.
Dopo un 2012 smagliante, segnato soprattutto dall'ottimo Back To Life e dal ritorno alla collaborazione con Dirk Serries per Low Volume Music , la già sterminata discografia di Roach vede ora aggiungersi il quinto capitolo al fianco di Metcalf, che si candida senza mezze misure come il miglior risultato ottenuto dalla coppia.

Messa da parte la smania per il ritmo e la passione per la ritual music, i due partono in questo Tales From The Ultra Tribe per un intrigante viaggio verso i lidi più quieti della tribal-ambient. Il ritmo riesce finalmente a formare un tutt'uno con i soundscape elettronici, in una tradizione che porta dritta al capolavoro Dreamtime Return, agganciandosi però anche alle trame dei recenti Destination Beyond e Groove Immersion.

La formula non dista troppo da questi ultimi, evoluta grazie all'inedito e inarrestabile dialogo tra i sintetizzatori e le percussioni. Quel che nasce è dunque un sinolo inscindibile, nel quale ogni brano è parte integrante dello stesso, costante moto. Setting Forth introduce, fra pulsioni elettrizzanti e sincopi pragmatiche, seguito sulla stessa linea dalla maratona instabile di Midnight Migration , nella quale l'elettronica è, a sorpresa, padrona assoluta della scena. L'ipnosi è lo stato mentale ricorrente, evocata dalle sinewave di Roach, pronte ad accogliere a braccia aperte Metcalf e il suo armamentario ritmico: i risultati si ammirano in A Noble Direction prima e The Magma Clan poi, suggestive interazioni fra tradizione tribale e ambient cosmico.

Il lato dark di quest'ultimo universo affiora nella danza notturna di Return Of The Dragon Bone Tribe , prima di sciogliersi nei flussi melodici di In The Safety Of Travel . A completare lo spettro è Road From Here , unica vera parentesi di stampo rituale affidata in toto a tamburi e bonghi, ideealmente conclusa dalla breve coda eterea di Fire Sky Portal .

Steve Roach continua ad arricchire la sua già lastricata carriera di episodi splendidi, incurante dell'ingiustificata indifferenza di molta critica musicale. Tales From The Ultra Tribe è l'ennesima risposta lanciata involontariamente a coloro che, per errata convinzione o timore nell'affrontare un'opera massiccia come la sua, si rifugiano nel biasimare per partito preso ogni sua uscita. Il compimento finale, a tredici anni dal primo incontro, del sodalizio con Byron Metcalf non è che l'ennesima vittoria di un musicista dotato di una creatività inesauribile. E che sembra doverne avere ancora per molto. Rating: 7.5 (Very Good) -Matteo Meda --Ondarock, Italy
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 15, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Projekt Records
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,610 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Exactly one year has passed since the phenomenal "Back To Life" 2CD by Steve Roach, which still deeply resonates with me. But now it's time to celebrate another groundbreaker!!! Yes, though this time The Master is joined by his fellow Arizonian shaman Byron Metcalf, a ceremonial and therapeutic guide, for their 6th collaborative project (some of them feature also Mark Seelig and Dashmesh Khalsa), but both artists have joined their forces also on other highly notable works such as both parts of "The Shaman's Heart", three parts of "Fever Dreams", "New Life Dreaming", "Live At SoundQuest Fest"... Profoundly magnificent "Back To Life" symphony is now shifted into a brand new level, a dimension emphasized by Byron's virtuoso performance on various drums, shakers, rattles, udu, clay pots... Steve utilizes various analog and digital synths including Eurorack analog modular, sequencers, drum machines, didge, ocarina and mega waterphone. Yes, their previous mostly tribal shamanistic infused harmony is now bridged with deeply mesmerizing cyber-trance adventures. What a fusion!!! "Setting Forth" fires the journey up with rather more groovier high-spirited hypnotics, with less primal impact, more hidden by cyber-tech bedding. With nearly 14 minutes the longest composition. Psychoactive hybrid of ancient and future, a sonic realm of pure splendor and power, but that's just the beginning!!! "A Noble Direction" kicks and both artists fully unfold their immeasurable wizardry. Vibrant tribal percussions with ultra monstrous beat are backed by flowing and ebbing immense and expressive wide-screen landscapes. And in about the middle of the track this tribal storm calms down and harmonious heartbeat of both shamans can be heard for 10 seconds, then this exciting journey again unwraps all its hyper-active rhythms.Read more ›
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I liked this one from the get go. The steady percussion could be the soundtrack to a trainride to the Gulag or background music to a walk in Eraserhead's neighborhood.
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gave it 5 stars because i loved it. There is a strong percussion element that blows me away...great it
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