June 20, 2024

Michael Shrieve – ‘Drums of Compassion’ – “rolling thunder”

7D MEDIA                     24th May 2024

I’m getting big Grateful Dead Family vibes here, from this relaxed, drum-based album. That shouldn’t be too surprising – Michael Shrieve has worked with Santana, so knows that West Coast groove. And what would Santana be without the awesome percussive groove provided by Shrieve on tracks like ‘Samba Pa Ti’? There are many of the same people who’d turn up on an album by Mickey Hart (the Grateful Dead drummer with the world music tastes). Step up Babatunde Olatunji, Zakir Hussain and Airto Moreira, also collaborators with Mickey Hart. I hear something jazzier here though, something slightly less purist, with smoky vibes at times and speedy snatches alongside bits of sampling and loops. Jack de Johnette the legendary jazz drummer and pianist features, thanks to tapes made at the Bumbershoot Festival of him and others, woven into Shrieve’s skein of beat.

This album is anything but purist and based on collaboration with Jeff Greinke, the jazz and ambient musician bringing spacey melodies into the drum framework. It’s this sort of eclectic mix that may have attracted Trey Gunn (ex-King Crimson) to release it on his label, given his penchant for the abtruse, as well as to bring his unique playing and instrument to the mix. Not that this is obscure in any way. It is mostly all about the drums but our ears are now attuned to percussion as an instrument and a melding of African, American and Indian traditions is simply spicy, like a good meal.

In a way, this stands outside recent history, drawing in traditional music, the percussion renaissance of the late sixties hippy scene, the sonic benefits of more recent developments and a contemporary palette of sounds. The album massages the ears and body, particularly the opening invocatory piece with Olatunji’s vocals and the spacious and deep Hejira which closes the album with a wide stereo effect of tactile acoustic drumming moving like rolling thunder around wherever you happen to be. It’s an invocation at the outset, a celebration of mystery in the middle and a majestic closing.

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