description: Native American chants and singing are central to the album

Blue Chip Orchestra Publisher's Website: Hearts of Space

Another Austrian group producing this style of music to the utmost of perfection. Composed, arranged and produced by the duo Hubert Bognermayr and Harald Zuschrader, Red Sky Beat is a beautiful electronic-meets-ethnic album which combines native drumming and flutes by the Red Spirit Ensemble, with brief vocal samples, fluttering synth-lines, emotive instrumental themes and a host of sounds from nature. From the unrelenting pow-wow drumming of Skan - The Sky with its rousing repetitive chanting and shakuhachi instrumentals, to the warm guitar strumming and gentle flute interjections of Ashes Cold and White and the unsettling hodge-podge of Siberian vocal performances on the epic Inyan - The Rock. The first track is probably the highpoint of the album, with a memorable flute melody, simple electronic bassline and staccato string ensemble supported by light drumming and ethnic rattles. Five of the tracks each centre around a particular character from the Creation myth of the Dakota tribe, which is detailed in the booklet. An immersive album that conveys a feeling of an epic journey of discovery across an untamed landscape. Blue Chip Orchestra's work is more ambient and instrumental, in comparison to Sacred Spirit or Raindance, with vocals being used rather sparsely -- but if you enjoyed those other groups then this is a definite listen. Note: outside America, you may find this album under the title White River Red Spirit.

Eye of the Sun

Subtitled The Heart and Soul of the Native Americans, this is another in a series of relaxation-style albums, published by Disky Communications Europe B.V. (of The Netherlands). It is a lighter, more synthesised alternative to Sacred Spirit and the 14 tracks are composed by T. Wasskonig and A. Reklov. Information supplied by Toni

Mystic Rhythms Band

Composed by Gregor Theelen, the album Mystic Rhythms combines predominantly Native American chants with modern rhythms and powerful synthesisers. The first single off the album is Victory Dance which uses aggressively-played piano chords to create a very jovial mood. Not all tracks on the album are up-tempo though, Indian Love Song is inspiring and gentle. There are also Sanskrit and Australian Aborigine chanting on some tracks. The album was published in 1999 by Oreade Music

Peter Kater Official Website

German-born composer of film and television soundtracks. His score for the 13-hour television mini-series How the West Was Lost is available on two CD's: How the West Was Lost: Volume One & Volume Two. There was obviously a great deal of music in the series, because the two albums each contain many tracks, but for space restrictions only a few are longer than 2:30 minutes. Like on many other soundtracks/scores, there are a few themes which are repeated throughout the album, and the title theme for this soundtrack is used often but it is beautiful and very infectious. The album is mostly instrumental but there are a host of tracks which feature live chant-performances by Native American soloists and choirs, as well as traditional flutes and drumming amongst the synthesisers and piano cadences. Kater has composed many other albums, a number of which are collaborations with R. Carlos Nakai (who plays flute and provides chanting on those albums and this one), but this soundtrack is easily he most moving and emotional. It will not be to everyone's taste as the songs are often brief, but if you enjoy soundtracks and scores take a listen.

Raindance

Composed, arranged and produced by two brothers, Bradley and Stewart James, this project was inspired by a Native American chant which was sung to the two when they were children. The album consists of moody synths and traditional acoustic instruments. It sounds like the true sequel to the first Sacred Spirit album (even though no ties are intentionally made with that album). The songs have strong tribal rhythms, with traditional and modern dance drums. The instrumentation of the album is very well done, with some effected instruments (including cellos and violins) which all add to the otherworldly nature of the album. The best tracks on the album are Return from River Island with its altered cello, ambient textures and infectious chant. Intertribal Pow Wow, despite the name, has a very epic feel to it and conveys the urgency of battle through a series of fast drumbeats, contrasted with the suddenness of a gentle melody. If you enjoyed the first Sacred Spirit album you will be rightfully impressed by this equally earthy album.

Sacred Spirit

The second Enigmatic project by reclusive Austrian maestro, Klaus Zundel, following hot on the heels of his b-tribe debut. Sacred Spirit (in some regions known as Sacred Spirits) is still Zundel's most successful project, and he has had many -- including Divine Works, Ancient Spirit, One Little Creature and Moroccan Spirit. The first album of Sacred Spirit, released in 1994, is the grand Chants and Dances of the Native Americans. In keeping with the Native American theme, Zundel (forever the mysterious person that he is) adopted the pseudonym 'The Fearsome Brave' and on his many other successive projects he is simply credited as 'The Brave'. I cannot begin to recommend to you what beautiful and truly moving mood-music this album is. It conveys the stories, legends and plight of the Native Americans by combining sampled chants of the Navajo, Pueblo and Sioux tribes with warm synthesiser backings, all driven forth by a combination of traditional drumming and electronic dance-beats. The first single released off the album was the uplifting Yeha-Noha (wishes of peace and happiness) which was largely responsible for catapulting Sacred Spirit into the limelight. However this track is eclipsed by the powerful and eerie masterpiece Ly-O-Lay Ale Loya (the counterclockwise circle dance) which is a centred around a beautiful lonesome Navajo chant answered by an emotive cello melody and digitally-slowed shakuhachi flute supported by an unrelenting house beat. Dawa (the cradlesong) is a lyrical, caressing track with an angelic Pueblo tribe chant. This album is probably the best tribal-meets-modern album you will ever find and is arguably one of the most successful enigmatic projects ever, garnering sales of more than 7 million albums worldwide.

A second album was released by Sacred Spirit, but it is a complete divergence from the original. Culture Clash is still composed/produced by Klaus Zundel and therefore still up to his high quality of mood music, but the focus this time round is the Blues singing of America. The album is beautiful and memorable, because the music itself is dark and moody -- only the vocals are Blues. In keeping with the change of theme, the American release saw the group name also being changed, to Indigo Spirit.

Excitingly enough, Virgin Records released the third Sacred Spirit album in 2000. It also signalled Zundel's return to making Native American Cross-over music that he made famous in the first album. This time the group's name was slightly altered to Indians' Sacred Spirit (and in some areas even that was abbreviated to Indians' Spirit), probably to inform listeners that it was different to the second album. The sub-title is More Chants And Dances of the Native Americans. But the minute you start listening to the CD's ominous Intro: Gods & Heroes you realise you've finally found an album that continues the mood and brilliant production of the first, influential album. Many groups had tried to capitalise on that album (as many groups had done after Enigma's debut was released) but none truly achieved it. That is why this third album, the true sequel is so welcome. Although never achieving the same glorious music of the first album, it carries the same mood and formula - however the album is distinctly more instrumental. Although all the tracks do feature chants or speech, each song is comprised of many short samples pieced together, unlike the first album which tended to use one extended sample per song. Looking Far North is the first track we encounter and sets the picture of what to expect: very layered music, combining the now-famous Zundel trademark cello, muted ambient piano (used with great effect on his other project Divine Works), Spanish guitar (prominently featured on his albums for the b-Tribe project), high synthesised strings and pulsing electronic drumloops with a smattering of ethnic percussion. Yane-Heja-Hee sounds very similar to Yeha-Noha (from the first album), probably because the same Navajo chant source has been used as well as similar backing instruments and arrangements. Favourite tracks on the album would have to be A-La-Ke with its resounding ethnic chorus, slowed house beat, and instrumental guitar. The track blends perfectly into May You Walk In Sunshine: a very uplifting and inspiring song with female singing. O-Loa-Ki-Lee features a very 'spaghetti-Western' style theme with it's use of steel guitar, extended male chant and steady Native American drumming, supported by dark and brooding synths -- all creating an equally uplifting and foreboding atmosphere. That Noble Dream is a very powerful, anthem-style song with ethnic flutes, faster rhythm and aggressive male and female chants. So if you are looking for another Sacred Spirit 1 or another good Native American Cross-over album, look no further, go buy this and every other album in Klaus Zundel's projects. Special thanks to John Lowe's Navajo Nation website for information regarding the tribal sources of chants.

Shaman Publisher's Website: Sattva Records

A project produced by Oliver Shanti, and similar to his style of uplifting music. It features three of his songs (one taken from his album Well Balanced), and the rest is a compilation of Native American artists, or Native American Cross-Over artists. Although most are well worth a listen, they never quite achieve the strength and beauty of Shanti's work. However the album serves as a good primer to more Native-American music, although not all the tracks feature synthesisers and electronica. The second Shaman compilation was released in 2001, featuring new songs by Shanti.

Oliver Shanti Official Website: Sattva Records

This prolific German composer, whose real name is Oliver Serano-Alve has produced numerous fantastic albums. He also created his own record company Sattva Records which initially was to release his own music, but has gone on to publish many other artists and showcase the talents of many traditional performers. The albums by Shanti that will be of most interest to Enigmatic fans are his more recent ones, all of which are amazing journeys. His albums are actually to be found under the artist heading 'Oliver Shanti and Friends' which gives credit to all the many artists who perform on his albums. Well Balanced, published in 1995 (and republished in 1998), is a superb Native American Cross-over album for you to enjoy. Beautifully ambient, upbeat and emotional the songs mix the organic vocals and Native American vocals with synthesisers and drumloops. The best song on this album is difficult to choose, but I'd end up going for the epic 6 minute Fight Without Fear with it's spoken vocals, traditional war drumming, plaintive flutes and an ever-increasing feeling of tension before the song explodes into a female-voiced choir. The only song not composed by Shanti on the album is You Can Hear Them Dancing which was written and performed by Joanne Shenandoah and arranged by Shanti -- it is a moving ballad with a very catchy chorus. Water - Four Circles of Life was the first single off the album and was made into a very impressive music video which is one of the best examples of Native American Cross-over music.

His follow-up album Seven Times Seven published in 1998, leaves behind the Native American style and embraces the music of the Middle East. This may be my favourite album of his to date, as it mixes traditional Indian and Middle Eastern singing with beautiful synths and instrumentation. More joyous than most of his other albums, Shanti has assembled for this album a group of distinctive voices. Songs like Onon Mweng featuring the velvety voice of Diana Isaac and an uplifting flute part. The title song is a rhythmic song with infectious melodies. The best song for me on this album though would have to be Al Atfaal with the gorgeous voice of Amal Morkus. The whole album is overall more electronic and features some truly beautiful themes. Yet Shanti's greatest power is his ability to multi-layer so many influences and chants into just one song, myriad of traditional and classical instruments, not to mention synthesisers and electronic basslines.

His latest Native American inspired album is the 14 tracks of Medicine Power which features more guitar but is just as moving and impressive as his other albums. The album has an impressive packaging, including a 40 page booklet describing Native American astrology. Favourite song on the album would be Shamboo Wokantonka with it's down-tempo ambience and sad flute. In December 2001, Shanti released his long-anticipated new album Alhambra. It sees him featuring the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the usual eclectic mixture of vocalists and traditional instrumentalists. Mixing Spanish, Middle Eastern and Oriental influences, it is another breathtaking album. For an even more relaxing and meditative work, take a listen to Tai Chi (published in 1992) and Tai Chi Too which is the more enjoyable one, published in 1996. Shanti also conceived and produced a trilogy of albums called Buddha & Bonsai which features many guest artists from the Orient and continues his exploration of these mystical lands. The first two albums are primarily reinterpretations of traditional songs with light synthesiser influences and a myriad of guest performers, however the third album displays the greatest involvement of Shanti and is the most enjoyable of the three. Oliver Shanti is an exceptionally creative individual, responsible also for all his album's art direction not to mention working as executive producer on various other albums that his company publishes.

Spirit Nation

When the self-titled debut album from this group was released in 1998, comparisons with Sacred Spirit were inevitable: moody synthesiser pads, beautiful Native American chants and light beats. However producers David Evans and Jimmy Waldo have created a more pop-orientated work and the Lakota Sioux vocals are not sampled, but rather written and performed by Judy Crescenzo. In 2001 they followed this up with Winter Moons published by BMG Records.

Stonecoat Publisher's Website: Earthtone Records

The 1999 album Native Trance is a 13-track homage to the Cherokee nation, written and performed by one of its descendants, Dino Soldo. Each piece is centred around a particular Cherokee legend (Stonecoat is the named of a powerful monster in their folklore). All the ethnic chants and vocals are performed live and never sampled, which results in a sound more along the lines of Oliver Shanti than Sacred Spirit with light synths, modern drumming and soaring native flutes.