- Chaco Mystery [3:32]
- The Glyph [2:17]
- Patterns [1:26]
- Chaco Landlight [3:32]
- The Language of Architecture [0:56]
- Pots, Pilgrims, and the Kivas [4:09]
- Mystery of the Moon [2:02]
- Ruins [2:11]
- The Dark Rooms of Chetro Ketl [1:51]
- The Mound [2:38]
- Solar Time [1:16]
- Climbing Fajada [2:12]
- Point of Origin [2:16]
- Solar Alignments [2:45]
- North Road Mystery [1:17]
- Lunar Alignments [5:41]
- The Middle of Time [3:23]
- Sealing the Door [5:02]
Score to Anna Sofaer’s documentary
© Bill Binkelman / WIND and WIRE –
This superb ambient/space/tribal release from space music pioneer Michael Stearns is the soundtrack to what sounds like an exciting and thought-provoking film about the petroglyphs discovered at the ruins at Chaco Canyon in the US southwest. The liner notes go into detail about Michaels Premonitions about chaco canyon and his meeting with the researcher, anna sofaer, whose work is the focus of the film. The notes make for fascinating reading.
The music on The Middle of Time is an extrapolation (of sorts) of Stearns excellent work for the soundtrack to Baraka, as well as the addition of subtle Native American textures (courtesy of chanting, flute work, and percussion). In addition, there is much more mystery laced throughout this recording, courtesy of some of Stearns best space music in a long time. The two opening cuts are solid examples of what I mean.
Fans of Stearns space music should be forewarned, though, that some of The Middle of Time travels the same path of other Native American/space/ambient fusionists, such as the latest CD collaboration of Jonn Serrie and Gary Stoutsos, Hidden World. Where Serrie/Stroutsos and John Huling (as another fusionist) explore a more sedate and serene territory, Stearns takes the listener into a landscape of shadows and memories, both ancient and alien (the liner notes make this extrapolation abundantly clear).
Since this is a soundtrack, some listeners may be frustrated by the short duration of some cuts (some clock in at less than less than two minutes, while even the longest pieces are less than six minutes in length). But, there are, after all, eighteen songs! And personally, the flow between cuts is as seamless as is possible, given the differences in musical approaches song-to-song.
While not truly dark ambient as, for example, Robert Richs Stalker is, The Middle of Time is a recording of so much power that it almost could be said to belong to the aforementioned o yuki conjugates domain. However, what Michael Stearns brings to this CD that is unique is a real spacy quality to even the most tribal songs, along with, of course, his trademark use of synthesizers which is completely his own. Some of the later cuts on the album are right up with there with the best space music being recorded today by artists like Meg Bowles, Steve Roach, and others.
The Middle of Time is a fantastic recording and marks a welcome return by an artist who once again shows why he is considered one of the preeminent musicians in the space music field. It gets my highest recommendation for all except die hard space music purists who may be put off by some of the overt tribal underpinnings. However, in this case, it will be their loss to ignore such a marvelous piece of work.
2000. © Bill Binkelman / WIND and WIRE
© Montse Andreau-Marin / Amazing Sounds –
Michael Stearns created this beautifully inspiring music as the soundtrack to the documentary .The Mystery of Chaco Canyon, narrated by Robert Redford. The title of the CD reflects the fact that the ancient ruins sited on the location of the documentary, Pueblo Bonito, in New Mexico, had been built in a way that marked the noon sun and equinox,the marking of the middle of time.The eighteen pieces in the album reflect the ancient mystery of the ruins left by the native inhabitants in the distant past. Together with its subdued textures and soft rhythmic sounds, the melodies come and go like a sea of time patterns enveloping a mysterious land. Native American chants are masterfully interwoven in the music created by Stearns, thus picturing a creative, appalling soundscape that reaches into the imagination of the listener, awakening our sense of wonder and reverence for the roots of ancient peoples and the mystery of those distant times in the past. Once again, Stearns gives us an inspired work that shares a touch of World Music with the patterns of New Instrumental Music, a calming piece of listening to let our imagination relax and fly free to otherworldly soundscapes.
2000. © Montse Andreau-Marin / Amazing Sounds