Whispers from Earth :: Ann Licater
Flutes are connected to breathing, and breathing is essential for life. The flute adds so much to the breath, which is harnessed for pushing and somehow expanding various notions of emotional expression. All is grave and serious, as befits the scriptures of an ancient people with a connection to unspoiled landscapes. This music is for meditation and calming.
The beginning of the album reminds me that in old times cave explorers were finding flutes in ancient caves, long, long ago, flute players would venture into the deep darkness to listen to the echo effects and then somehow their instrument remained there in the dark. What would you think you might hear, if you happened to be in that cave?
A whisper is so perfectly soft and delicate, a whisper is an expression, a signal. So I wonder, what signals have we been sending out from the Earth? Perhaps the earliest signals from Earth came as a form of prayer. Using music to express gratitude is a beautiful thing.
What has become of the earth, if all is sky and clouds? Listening to the music, there are no words, these tales are certainly charming, they constantly bring surprise. Listening I set forth with a quick step and a light heart upon this great adventure.
Another night falls on the earth. Impenetrable darkness surrounds us, and only in the zenith a few stars sparkle. A dream-picture in the most ethereal transitory tones floats before us, "Whispers from Earth" (4:22). I hear a celestial glow in the distance, an accompanied flute, deep and dry. I wake to find that all has been changed by time and place.
We ride along the steep slopes of the right bank; below us the river enters the pond, and the way is glorious, "Echoes from a Glass Pond" (3:26) I hear a tremolo call and return reverberating across the expanse of the reflective water, I see a broad meadow with a little stream winding through the center of it, the shining gold and the emerald green, now wondering, looking for the sunlight, so bright a moment ago. Take the time, "Peaceful Prayer" (3:21) remember the way that the spirits flicker and the quiet incandescence reaches within and goes a long way, the sun is pouring fresh gold over the blue lake. "Luminous Morning" (4:25) and a piano joins the Gaelic bird spirits very capable of exerting magical or supernatural and mysterious power of very holy, clear, and pure water.
"Red Cedar Calling" (2:42) stands alone, signaling to other cedar spirits signifying, to answer the questions concerning history, phenomena, and the origin of things, stark in the bright moonlight, and some drifting white clouds tell of the last of the storm. Tonight moon-lighted snowfields will keep you from fear. "Star Stream Dreamer" (6:17) dreams could be the means of the preservation of the ancient tales, warm flowing breath and melodic patterns, changed by some whim of the gods into an air-ship which is soon to be bearing us away to another planet, before the sunlight disappeared and a strange half darkness covered. Travelers of unusual qualities, their picturesqueness, their love of fun and adventure. At the turns stand cubical shrines and votive cairns, and here and there a streamer flutters on a mast.
Now the water is perfectly still, somehow holding the place where the lake looks just this way, a rich full tone, "Mirror Lake Reflection" (3:05), as transparent as glass. The day is perfectly calm and the lake like a mirror, in which the sky was reflected; both looked exactly the same, and were of the same color, and the mountains, which in consequence of the distance were all blended into a dark shadow, were like a girdle of clouds.
Strange, brilliant flowers grow in rich profusion on all sides, filling the air with a soft, sweet fragrance. Birds with bright plumage flash by, and the sound of their incessant sweet singing mingling while the caravan marches along the shore. Music unites with natural beauty, with such an influence on the faith and souls, "Initiation (Awakening)" (2:59) I hear a double tone summoning the community to bring about a state of ecstasy rather than trance, and that acknowledges both light and dark, life and death, and recognises the savage side of the natural world. The element of repetition, the distinctly human characters, the atmosphere of another land and strange people, simultaneously drawn to the individual and collective development of human potential.
Shimmering metal and moist breath creating a "Silver Soliloquy" (3:46), speaking alone both inside and above, hearing tones which seem to fall from heaven, peaks clothed with eternal snow, and glaciers, one of which, of large dimensions and bluish green in front, with numerous moraines and rivulets, when the weather is calm and the frost is sharp one can almost hear the sound of the frost outside.
Who gallops in a cloud of gray fiery tongues and smoke on a pink horse?
Like the wind over hills and valleys, on and on, in a cool grove here upon this shining mountain, embraced by a valley, deep and dark and mysterious. "Forest Moon Rising" (3:02) Calls so clearly, still in the unknown long ago, wandering tribes, or perhaps occasional single travelers, carrying the stories into the highlands, we are passing through a fair green meadow now clothed in nocturnal shadows. "Redwood Memories" (3:18), where are they now? I can hear the trees calling low and the voice is dry, imagine them with the sunlight pouring down and the tall grass waving, behind every flower and bush dance forth tiny little forms, shimmery and indistinct but beautiful beyond belief. In and out among the shallows and deep pools they flash.
Lying awake at night one fancies one hears the sighs of the wonderful road and its wild beauty, the best music focuses on an improved future. We seem to stand on a promontory jutting out into endless space, which yawns around us and in front. We are going out into the universe, going further. We are joined by friends. "Following the Call (Horizons)" (4:07) evokes the romance of the quest. So be it, listen filled with wonder and curiosity in the palace cave, full of wonder and delight, remember that by knowledge are all good things accomplished, music allows dreamers to find reason for having lived so long and traveled so far.
Ann Licater created and facilitates “Flute for the Soul” workshops where she plays Native American and world flutes as tools for personal discovery. On her six albums, Following the Call, Doorway to a Dream, Invitation from Within, Beyond the Waves, Quiet Spaces: Flute Meditations for Mindfulness and Relaxation and now Whispers from Earth, as in her healing concerts, Ann’s unique approach merges her intuition, spiritual perspective and traditional music background. Her love of wood and clay flutes led her to study with master flutist R. Carlos Nakai (Navajo-Ute) complementing her years of classical flute training at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis.
Photo credit of Ann Licater in the Tahoe forest: Steve Voldseth