Heavy, shamanic, tectonic Fourth World music from French-American composer, of Cherokee descent, Steve Shehan. Primarily a percussionist, Steve developed his own improvisational recording method to be able to capture the moody, spiritual, polyrhythmic music of his favorite Indonesian music tradition, working to translate it to modern environs and add other non-Western influences from the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere.
Arrows, Steve’s debut on the amazing Made to Measure series by the cult pan-world Crammed Disc music label, finds him globe-trotting through all sorts of unplaceable mallet-driven percussion and assorted resonating sonic instruments in search of an uncertain musical link to imaginary places. Years before he became well-known for his spirited session work with Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Cheb Khaled, an Youssou N’Dour, Steve was holding legion, recording deeply experimental percussion music that touched on various non-Western elements in ways that still remain quite modern and forward-thinking.
Unable to feel a connection to his French or European homeland, Arrows allowed Steve to layer elements of deeply non-Western music into his idea of “world music”. Mixing the mystical with the intriguing fragmentation and resetting values of digital sonics, like in fascinating highlights like the title track or “Rainy Forest”, Steve finds a way to roll in the magical realism of physical sensory environments we rarely get to experience in real life. Another track “Shogun” perfectly captures the otherworldly movement of gamelan-driven music in a way that takes its influence into intriguing new places.
Synthesizers or tape loops imitating earthly forces, percussions trying to drive home illusory creations, and a widescreen version of continent-less music do wonders in backing up Steve’s idea that most people lack the understanding of the power of sound. In songs like “Istanblue” and “Blue Nile” there are wonderfully adaptive human emotions, music, and ideas that reflect back the gorgeous ideas only we can dream up and bring to fruition, sometimes. On this occasion, though, Arrows is one powerful sometime – a masterpiece of “fourth world” music.