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Michael Brant DeMARIA
Siyotanka (2008): 1. The Village; 2 Siyotanka; 3 Grandfather; 4 The Quest; 5 The Dream; 6 Nuka; 7 Three Trees; 8 Beyond the Known; 9 Night Watcher; 10 Branched Horn; 11 Becoming Takoda; 12 Siyotanka Reprise.
All instruments and voices are Michael Brant DeMaria multitracked


Experience Classicsonline

Michael Brant DeMaria is a psychologist, author, speaker and musician. A multi-instrumentalist, he is said to have begun using music for his own healing from trauma at the age of 7. His own brand of expressive therapy integrates nature with poetry, music, play and art. His first CD The River was released in 2003. Siyotanka is his third CD and follows on from The River and Ocean. It was used as the soundtrack for the play he co-wrote with Stephen C. Lott, Siyotanka: The Legend of the Flute.

Across twelve named tracks this CD sets out the incidental music to a play based on the Native American Lakota legend. The music is composed and performed by DeMaria and is played on native American flutes, percussion, synthesizer and piano. The synthesizer is used at various points to provide a living canvas of string orchestral tone and guitar. The flutes are a Mid-Range A/Walnut, Ultra-Low E/Redwood, Mid-range E/Cherry, Hi-D/Padauk, Hi-B Walnut and D flat Spalted Curly Maple. I do not know the play but the folk-legend tells of Tadoka’s journey through the wilderness to bring the flute back to the Ladoka people. 

The music is closer to New Age-Folk mystery than it is to anything else. The flutes provide the leading melodic material throughout with rhythmic fibre provided by a constantly changing 'chorus' of shell and other rattles and drums, deep and high. Other components in the mix include a simulation of native voices in ceremonial: presumably multi-tracked DeMaria. There are thunder and rain noises in The Dream. A repetitive fountain pattern ostinato is used in Nuka and recalls in outline the similar ostinato in Delius's music for Hassan and specifically that for the Caliph's Fountain. Much of this music has a minimalist iterative patterning. It’s meditative and some of it suggests the wavering transcendental images seemingly associated with hallucinogenic substances. Sometimes the flute line as in Nuka and Beyond the Known can sound like a slowed off-cut from Sergio Leone's spaghetti western scores. It's very pleasing in an undemanding way as you may expect from incidental music - yet it is far from elevator stuff. The creaking jungle noises in Night watcher take us to typical Villa-Lobos jungle music. The strings at the start of Takoda sound a little like the ikonic Star Trek-Next Generation score. If I have a criticism it is that the music on this disc has an artificial signature to it – studio-bound and enclosed yet always rich and forward. 

Rob Barnett 



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