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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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Paradise Lost
By Michael Stribling
Label: Leela Music
Released 8/2/2010
Paradise Lost tracks
1. Prairie Dawn
2. Guardian of the Plains
3. Forest Heart
4. Eagle Above, River Below
5. Hunting Party
6. March of Destiny
7. Approaching Storm
8. Vision Quest
9. Paradise Lost
10. Lament for the Land
11. Hymn for the Fallen
12. Return to the Spirit World
The First Nation
There is some wonderful music by Native Americans artists out there, but there is not a lot of music about Native Americans. In Paradise Lost, Michael Stribling's finest work to date, we, as listeners and participants accompany the artist somewhat like the characters in John Milton's Paradise Lost where we, as readers accompanied Adam and his angel in a quest to uncover the sins of man. They are all too obvious in both cases. In this electronic musical epic the drama unfolds like an orchestrated performance or a classical work. The music does an amazing job of chronicling the plight of Native Americans from when they were "discovered" by the Europeans up to modern time. The work is imparted in three deferential acts, the land as it was, the coming of the white man and the resulting tragedy. It may still be in dispute as to whether Scandinavia or Italy was responsible for the discovery of the New World, but none can argue as to the vast wealth that was discovered there. Sometimes wealth is measured not in nuggets or doubloons, but in knowledge. My vote is for knowledge. Although many societies are noted for their intricate intertwining of man and nature, none is stronger or more evident than that of the Native Americans. However, with the influence of the white man, no society was more stifled or vanquished more rapidly.

It appears that one can actually feel a sunrise, the golden light of day warming the earth and giving life a jump start. In the first song Prairie Dawn, Michael has created the vastness of the sea of grass and flowers that is Middle America. Its wind driven amber waves hide as much mystery and as much sustenance as any salty counterpart. Within that mystery is the stalwart countenance of a people that have braved the hardships of their environment and carved their history long before wooden ships sailed into their lives.

Sometimes the sound of their hoof beats resounded like thunder across the grasslands. Few creatures have made such great contributions to their environment than the Tatonka. The buffalo are a source of food for many tribes and they are the subjects of countless stories and parables in the Native American oral history. Guardian of the Plains pays tribute to the power and majesty of the beasts that are equated with endless blue skies, numbers once ranging in the hundreds of millions and the singular concept of freedom.

One can almost envision Natty Bumpo darting through the undergrowth, flintlock in hand in pursuit of the elusive whitetail in the thrilling tune Hunting Party. Native American's respect for nature and all the animals that made up his surroundings taught him to thank the spirits for not only the meat, but the sacrifice of the creatures. The pace in this song is relentless and the guitars are reminiscent of Jan Hammer's familiar sound making it a very exciting tune.

There is somberness to the tune Approaching Storm. We sense that lightning flashes and thunder echoing off the canyon walls and the clouds thickening in the distance. In the East, rivers will swell and lakes will rise. In the Middle of the country nourishing waters will help to grow the corn and wheat that are staples, and in the west flash floods will sweep the land. In the desert flowers will bloom by the millions and give the stars themselves earthly competition. Rain means many things to many people.

Paradise Lost the sound of a thousand voices throughout the ages praying for peace. It asks the question, "Why can we not be ourselves and live in peace with all creatures?" The intruding sound of the iron horse and the foreboding shrill of the Age of Machinery permeates the song, challenging the ersatz notion of progress.

I could expound on all thirteen tracks, but space is a concern. Leave it to say that I have enjoyed Michael Stribling's latest offering more than any of his works that I have reviewed before. I liked its concept, its content and most of all, its commitment. His electronic compositions formed purposeful scenarios that will endure in heart and spirit.
Rating: Very Good   Very Good
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 2/5/2011
 
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