Northern Cree & Friends, Vol. 5

The last time you encountered Native American music, you were probably in the middle of a deep-tissue massage. Long Winter Nights, on the other hand, should be blazing over the PA at a bustling pub. This is round dance music — raw, joyous drum and chant, far from the sedative flute sounds that have become as much a staple of the New Age palette as Hindi percussion. The CD, released by Phoenix's own Canyon label, captures a gathering last April in Alberta, Canada, including the Grammy-nominated Northern Cree Singers, Big River Cree, Whitefish Jr. and others, all of whom sound like they're having the sweaty jam session of their lives. The sound is a thundering corps of hand-drums with buzzing overtones — struck with something close to a restless funk groove — and cascading group vocals, including some spontaneous, native-language testifying. It's great party music, dangerous driving music, and would sound just about right sandwiched on a mix between Funkadelic and The Pogues. Guaranteed not to be found breezing through the speakers at a New Age schlock shop near you.


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