All indigenous cultures feel a deep connection with the animals, plants and the land in which they live. So it is with Native American cultures. Many people are familiar with fetishes, totem animal figures carved out of wood, bone or stone. Buffalo and bear totems share space on my altar, as I relate particularly strongly to those beings.
With Totemic Flute Chants, Johnny Whitehorse (who many of you know as Robert Mirabal from the Taos Pueblo) has crafted a deeply moving tribute to 10 different animals, from the cougar to the wolf, along with the spirits of Earth Mother and Emergence. The ecstatic result is an album of Native American-inspired songs featuring Johnny’s signature flute, along with his vocals and exquisite didgeridoo. As some of you know, Robert is a phenomenally talented singer-songwriter, musician, dancer, flute maker (his flutes grace the Smithsonian) storyteller and more. His many awards include Native American Music Awards 2003 Artist of the Year. Over the past 13 years, I have reviewed many of his albums, and love recommending them to friends as outstanding examples of contemporary Native American music.
For me, part of the allure of Totemic Flute Chants is that Johnny includes nature sounds along with indigenous instruments from around the world. Patrick Shendo Mirabal (Robert’s brother) adds percussion, drums, rattles, vocals and more. Larry Mitchell contributes guitar, keyboards and programming. Each song, such as “Elk” or “Eagle,” or “Coyote,” serve as potent ritual to facilitate a deepening connection with the animal’s spirit. For those so inclined, Totemic Flute Chants also works beautifully with meditation, massage and other body-centered therapies. Anyone interested in exotic, sensual, mysterious flute-based music is sure to find Totemic Flute Chants filled with wonder and delight.