Banks Bailey ~ Entrances

When I first visited Arizona a number of years ago, I was naive.  I figured I’d be able to pick up some great music in Phoenix for my drive to the Grand Canyon: something evocative and distinctly desert in feel.  I was wrong.  Despite much searching, the best I could find was an album of Native American chants augmented by looped rain recordings.  Suffice it to say that this is the album I was looking for, but didn’t find.  Entrances is authentic in feel, evocative in nature, and instinctive in execution.  I’m sorry I didn’t have it back then, but I’m glad to have it now.

The global market has caused music to lose its former regional flavor.  Wherever one travels today, one hears the same sounds: the same chart hits, the same oldies.  But what if things were different?  What if we could visit various places and hear more sounds specific to those regions, not only in concert halls, but in shopping centers and on the radio?  Wouldn’t travel then be richer, fuller, a more unique experience?

When one hears the church bells of Entrance, one thinks of conquistadors and the weight of human history.  One imagines a lonely Sunday morning, a single person at the rope, tugging and hoping for parishioners to make their way across the dust and heat.  The early hour bee and birdsong is true to time and place, not a canned set of sound sources.  A family conversation hints at an afternoon drive.  The sound of distant sirens indicates an emergency elsewhere.  Howling wind and splattering rain emerge swiftly and pass just as fast: the quick-moving storms that cool the Arizona heat for minutes at a time.  This crisp section is one of the album’s finest.  As the storm subsides, Bailey and his friend Nanoo play abstract melodies on wooden flutes.  Singing bowls reverberate.  Insects and amphibians return at the close, reclaiming their territory.

As one who has been to Arizona, I can attest that it sounds like the state: not the commercialized, mainstream Arizona, but the natural Arizona ~ the red rocks of Sedona, the blast heat of Tempe, the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Entrances captures the wide, expansive spaces, the sense of fullness in emptiness that characterizes the spaces between the settlements.  It should be considered a state treasure and sold at every outpost along the way.  (Richard Allen)

Available here

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