by Jeff Towne, New Age Voice
The spirits seem restless as the opening track "Taking Flight" propels us into an altered state, twirled by hypnotic drumbeats, whirled by surreal audio textures. Is it a Gnawan ritual from a torch-lit square in Marrakesh? No, this is a more mysterious rite, employing ancient and modern musical devices to traverse layers of consciousness. Jeffrey Fayman provides the ecstatic hand-drum rhythms, assisted by Mamodou Kah. Together they blend African, Arabic and Middle-Eastern sounds in non-traditional ways, evoking the multilayered power of the Burundi Drummers or a circle of djembe players, entranced by their own dizzying spirals.
TRANCE SPIRITS follows the 2000 recording A TEMPLE IN THE CLOUDS, which featured Fayman's synthesizer work overlaying guitar textures recorded previously by Robert Fripp. The King Crimson guitarist contributes some of his signature looping frippertronic Soundscapes, to this recording as well, but they appear here as textures underlying only three tracks. Steve Roach provides most of the ambience, on guitar, synthesizer and various organic sound sources. The flow of interaction between Roach and Fayman, who have worked together on Roach's recordings as well as in live performances, is evident.
Most of the CD is swept away in an enveloping storm of percussion, originating from hands on skins as well as fingers on knobs, but there's an occasional oasis of quiet drift amidst the propulsive grooves. The Fripp-flavored "Off Spring" eases the listener into a dreamy solace, until the insistent electronic pulse of "Seekers" initiates a chase through labyrinthine back-alleys. Fayman's experience creating music for Hollywood "coming-attraction" reels serves this project well, lending a cinematic scale to this CD. It's well suited to accompany tense chase scenes and disorienting dreams, as well as the infinitely more complicated visions of the listener's own trance journeys.