Coyotzin's second CD, Historias De Los Brujos is a mostly subtle mix of various
Reviewed by: Stephanie Sollow, August 2003
Coyotzin's second CD, Historias De Los Brujos is a mostly subtle mix of various ethnic instruments. What I was reminded of is the music used in the "surreal" video game Myst (though the word game is misleading… mental challenge is more apt). There music was used to set a mood, but it was quite minimalist, subtle. And though there is no other relationship between the two other than what goes on in my ears, the music on Historias… has the same effect. And, in fact, this is music that demands immersion. One must have an hour or so of time in which to sit comfortably and still, eyes closed, mind open. So this was a hard CD for me to review, since concrete thinking – forming sentences – detracts from the listening process.
The music is organic… it is a living thing. It is like being placed in the deepest and lushest, yet undisturbed areas of Mesoamerica. You are transported to a time where there are no cellphones, no faxes or airplanes flying overhead. It is a tranquility that is ever harder to find in hurried and fast paced world. It is the idyllic – and yet for an hour or so, that idyllic can become almost real. Coyotzin writes in the liner notes (written in Spanish, English, and -- I suspect because Coyotzin now lives in Quebec, Canada – French), "With [these] kind of instruments, melodies and atmospheres I try to recreate a forgotten world, one in which we don't have access anymore." That my impressions were formed, and, in fact, written, before I read those words suggests the success of his intention. Even though you get make get so relaxed you doze, you will experience much of the music on an visceral level. By doze, I do not mean sleep, just a more lulled and relaxed state.
Flutes, warm drums, shakers, sonic effects, and voice make up only a part of Coyotzin's sound palette. In fact, those really only are broad categories, since within each there are a variety of types – in the category of percussion alone Coytozin employs no fewer than 11 different types of drum. "Also I used for the first time," he writes, "functional replicas of quadruple flutes found in Teotihucan and the Maya zone and triple flutes from Tenenexpan and the [three] Zapotes sites."
The is mostly ambient and atmospheric in nature, from pieces like "In Tamoanch´" and "Los Brujos De La Antiqüedad" which begin the album, to "Tonantzin" which is both minimalist, in that is mainly water effects and spoken word -- hose words are in an "ancient Mexican language [taken from the…] 'nican mophua codex'". In between there is the more rhythmically active "…Y El Maíz Nos Volviöo Fuertes (And The Corn Build Us Strong)" and the upbeat and, in any other context, whimsical "In Tonalli." Cheerful birds chirp accompanied by flute, which sometimes whinnies just like the horse hoof like percussive beats. This sunny arrangement mirrors the meaning of the word in the title – the sun, though an alternative (related) reference is to the "sacred calendar." "In Nagulalli" is darker, the term referring to "the unknown."
A very beautiful, though overall very understated, suite of music is Historias De Los Brujos. It flows together of a piece, only subtle rhythmic changes to guide your way. Though it is not a concept album per se, in that there is no sequential or chronological narrative thread linking each piece, it is a concept album in…well, in concept. Coyotzin provides in the liner notes historical context for each of the pieces; Historias… is part one of a planned larger concept of Coyotzin's which would encompass many more Mesoamerican cultures. Those represented here in part one are Teotihucan and Toltec. It does leave you with the impression that pre-Columbian Mesoamericans lived a bucolic and simple life, but archeology tells us that that isn't quite so. Nevertheless, the music here is meant to tap into one's more spiritual side, and in that it succeeds, and does so wonderfully.