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Album Review: Gaia
Michael Brant DeMaria
Cover image of the album Gaia by Michael Brant DeMaria
Michael Brant DeMaria
2010 / Ontos Music
63 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Gaia is the third in Grammy-nominated composer/musician Michael Brant DeMaria’s Healing Sound Project. Two years in the making, DeMaria’s multi-instrumental work takes us on a musical world tour exploring earth (Gaia) as a living presence and chronicling her awakening on down through time. DeMaria’s instruments of choice are Native American flutes, but he also performs on an impressive array of other instruments - Xiao, Shakuhachi, keyboards, piano, synthesizers, world percussion, and his own voice. Native flutes have a haunting quality to begin with, and DeMaria’s expressive playing makes this music unique and deeply emotional. DeMaria’s excellent liner notes explain what each of the fourteen pieces is about and what the titles mean, but I think one of the quotations says it all: “What we need most is to hear the sound of the Earth crying. -Thich Nhat Hanh.” DeMaria continues: “These are my tone poems and sound prayers offered up in honoring our common heritage as Native Earthlings on this precious planet and showing how music connects us all.”

Gaia begins with the title track, which depicts Gaia in her sleep, drifting in endless space. Piano and Native flute create the feeling of effortless floating in vast openness - dark, safe, and warm. In “Anima Mundi,” Gaia begins to awaken. Piano, flute, percussion, and DeMaria’s voice add mystery and intensity. “Alchera” takes us to Australia as Gaia breathes through her vast sky. Demaria’s breathing suggests wind while light flutes, percussion and didgeridoo inform us of where we are. “Asase Yaa” takes us to Africa where the children dance to light percussion and flute as an expression of joy. “Ja-Neb’a” journeys to Siberia, expressing bitter cold as Gaia watches those who have forgotten she is alive. The grief and sadness in this piece go right to the heart. “Zazen” expresses the ancient art of stillness and being. Flute and deep ambient sounds create a dark and mysterious feeling. “Balinasia” is soothing and comforting as Gaia’s heart embraces all who suffer. “Kishar” is a gorgeous prayer for peace in the Middle East. The gentle rhythm and simple melody express tranquility and serenity. “Danu” ends our journey with a quiet celebration of Gaia’s living within each of us - endlessly nurturing us and giving us hope.

Gaia is another amazing musical achievement from Michael Brant DeMaria. His musicianship is incredible, but to put so much research as well as heart into his music puts him in a category of his own. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about this fantastic album! I give it my highest recommendation. It is available from www.ontos.org, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby.
October 30, 2010
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Grammy NomineesKathy's Favorites: 2010
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