CD: In The Flow
Artist: Michael Brant DeMaria

It is my great pleasure to welcome back to Music And Media Focus, Michael Brant DeMaria, whose magical “Gaia” CD was the very first review to grace this site when it was launched on 1/1/11. His latest release is a compilation of selections from three of his highly acclaimed CD’s: “The River.” “Siyotanka,” and “Ocean.” The music is timeless and each composition was selected for its soothing and restorative qualities. Subtitled “Music For Emotional Healing” it marks the beginning of a new series under that name on the Sounds True label. This is familiar territory for Michael who has been a psychologist for 25 years, as well as a Grammy-nominated and award-winning composer.

In discussing the concept of “flow” and how it relates to emotional healing, Michael says: “Flow refers to the fluid healing energy of life itself. As water cleanses a physical wound, music has the capacity to cleanse an emotional wound. In many ways, music embodies the river of life that courses through our bodies.” At the age of six, while recovering from abdominal surgery, Michael found great solace in playing the family piano, simply hitting one note at a time. As he focused on the sound of the note rising and falling, he noticed the pain begin to dissipate and he felt connected to and nurtured by something greater than himself. Thus began a lifelong spiritual quest and exploration into the healing effects of music. The CD includes an eight-page booklet that expands on this topic.

Perhaps best known for his Native flute playing, Michael combines its’ airy tones with piano, synthesizers, and a variety of world percussion. Careful consideration has been paid to the sequencing of the songs on the album, which begins with the slow drifting currents of “The River” – a perfect place to first dip your toes into the music. Like a river, it is deep and moving as it wends its’ way into your emotions. The next song, appropriately named “Journeying” washes you up on shore and into contact with the earth element through it’s gentle rhythmic groove, rattles, shakers, and percussive sounds. The propulsion is provided by what sounds to be a slit drum – a wonderfully warm woody sound that is subtle yet adds a distinct character to the song. Michael’s use of well-chosen percussion instruments in a way that softly supports the music without overpowering it is one aspect of his work as a composer that I admire. I found an interesting yin-yang contrast between the depth of “The River” and the buoyancy of “Journeying,” which left me intrigued to hear what would follow.

I was certainly not disappointed as we entered “The Village” with its nature sounds and wooden flute over a tribal rhythm of kalimba or African thumb piano. Another musical contrast, this time within one song, was on “Becoming Takoda” which for the first half had a mysterious cinematic quality before opening into a lighter brighter space, somewhat like the sun breaking through the clouds on an overcast day. I can truly say that I thought every song on the CD was excellent and while it is hard to pick favorites, I also enjoyed the misty atmospheric quality of “Moonlit Sea” and the expansiveness of “Finding Forever.”

This CD makes a stellar collection and is a wonderful introduction to the music of Michael Brant DeMaria. Beyond being a serene yet engaging listening experience, it definitely achieves the goal he set out to accomplish: to build “intricate and intentional ‘sound journeys’, and create a musical space that nurtures your spirit and helps you open the connection with our true source. Check it out and get “In The Flow.”