of the top New Age record labels in the U.S., Sequoia continues releasing
high quality albums including the 2014 CD release of Drum Cargo
- Rhythms Of Earth. Although Sequoia founders David
Gordon and Steve Gordon are best known as modern day New
Age music composers, on this fourth Drum Cargo album, they
put on their drumming hats. Combining ethnic drums and the magical
sound of Native American flute, the album is filled with propelling
drumming that stirs the soul while providing a captivating sonic backdrop.
One can almost picture the scene at a native American powwow, the
audience mesmerized as tribal drummers pound out the big beat. Music
listeners who enjoy Native American drum and flute sounds fans will
want to spin this fourth release in Sequoias Drum Cargo series.
As is the case with all Sequoia releases, the sound is excellent and
the CD packaging is eye-catching. Also released on CD in 2014 on Sequoia
is KarmaCosmic, which is being described as an
album of new instrumental music from Europe. The KarmaCosmic
sound is filled with quite lush sounding synths and drifting waves
of electronics. The music was inspired by the sounds of India and,
as the CD liner notes point out, the album is filled with Indian melodies,
New Age sounds, percussive rhythms, grooves and meditative soundscapes.
Subtitled Music For Tantra & Meditation, the
ten track CD is sure to be among the top New Age instrumental albums
of 2014. www.SequoiaRecords.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
David & Steve Gordon
How many Drum Cargo titles have been recorded and released on Sequoia
Records and can you tell the readers something about the basic concepts
of the series and how would you say the recently released Rhythms
Of Earth title is unique from the other Drum Cargo albums? Is there
a musical thread running through the series?
David Gordon: So far we have released 4 albums in the series,
one for each of the four elements:
Drum Cargo: Rhythms of Fire
Drum Cargo: Rhythms of Water
Drum Cargo: Rhythms of Wind
Drum Cargo: Rhythms of Earth
The idea behind this series was to explore creating music using only
drums, percussion and a small amount of Native American flute. We
wanted to give ourselves this creative limitation and see if we could
create music that was as engaging, interesting and satisfying as music
that had more melodic instruments.
What we discovered was that it is not only possible, but not that
hard considering the richness found in the sound of ethnic drums and
how much more you can hear that richness once you remove all the melodic
Steve Gordon: For each of the 4 albums, we created beats and
songs that expressed the qualities for that element. So for the new
one, Drum Cargo: Rhythms of Earth, we used lots of large deep
sounding drums and created beats that were earthy and empowering.
How many different types of drums are in play on the Drum Cargo series
and who were the other musicians and artists involved in the production
of the Rhythms Of Earth album? Do you always seek out some exotic
new drums or sounds to use on a new Drum Cargo recording and for those
who arent familiar with it, can you explain the concepts of
Shamanic drumming? Is Shamanic drumming a form of primal therapy using
David Gordon: There were over 50 different types of drums played
on the Drum Cargo series. But that does not include the different
varieties of each type of drum. For example we used Djembes, but there
were many different types and sizes of Djembes played. The same applies
to many of the other drum types that were used. So even though the
number of types of drums was around 50 there were 3 or 4 times that
many in our studio while we were recording!
Here is the list of instruments used on the Drum Cargo series: Taos
Log Drums, Djembe, Ashiko, Congas, Tar, Dumbek, Gathering Drum, Tongue
Drum, Turtle Rattle, Native American Flutes, Seed Pod Rattle, Palm
Leaf Rattle, Rainstick, Kalimba, Souix Drum, Dun Duns, Djembe, Native
Heart Drum, Taos Log Drums, Native American Flutes, Frame Drums, Taos
Pueblo Rattles, Tongue Drum, Rainstick, Sangba, Talking Drums, Nigerian
log drums, Krin, Shekere, Bongo Madera, Batajon, bass Cajon, Timbales,
Conga, Bongo,Bells, Caxixi, Tamborim, Repinique, Surdos, Ganza, Seedpod
rattle, Frame Drums, Dumbecs, Calabash, Gankogui, Adodo, Ghatam, Gongs,
Bowls, Box Drum, Moroccan Bongos, Shakers, water bottle, metal percussion
Steve Gordon: The other people who played on this series were
Kim Atkinson and Bobby Cochran. Kim is an authority on Afro-Cuban
drumming, very knowledgeable, and has a large collection of drums
and percusssion. When he brought just a small part of his collection
to my studio, David and I each have our own studios, and we laid out
all of his drums next to our also extensive collection plus Bobbys
drums, it was quite a scene. There were drums and percussion from
around the world of all shapes and sizes spread out across the entire
studio. It was hard to even walk from one end of my studio to the
other, and my studio is over 750 square feet!
had decided that each Drum Cargo album would be for a different one
of the four elements, we made lists of which drums would be used on
each album based on if the drum either sounded like a particular element
or sometimes we even used one of the elements such as when we used
a bowl of water as a drum for Drum Cargo: Rhythms of Water. Kim also
had an ocean drum which had sand inside it.
Weve been into Shamanic Drumming since the 1990s. Through
all-night drum circles in the mountains we experienced first hand
the power that drumming can have as an entry into the trance state
of consciousness. It is in this state that it is possible to heal
your spirit, your mind and even your body since the body is effected
by the quality of your thoughts.
This is the Shamanic state. Ancient people used drumming as a portal
for the Shaman to enter into what they called the spirit world, or
the lower world, in search of healing and vision for themselves and
their people. We explored these themes deeply in our albums such as
Sacred Spirit Drums, Shamans Vision Journey and others.
Now we are using the pure accompanied sound of the drums themselves
to access the Shamanic world with the Drum Cargo series.
mwe3: When did it inspire you to first start creating an album
of only drumming? I hear a lot of African kind of rhythms in the Drum
Cargo Rhythms Of Earth tracks. I also hear some of Ginger Bakers
drumming style. Are some core concepts of drumming related to African
rhythms and tribal rituals?
David Gordon: The inspiration for this goes back to when we
recorded our earlier world fusion albums, Sacred Earth Drums, Drum
Medicine and others. Those albums grew our of our experiences
with the drum circles in the forest. They were sort of cinematic,
a journey through layers of sound - Native flutes, acoustic and electronic
instruments, guitars, piano and some vocals and chanting.
The drums were always the foundation and heartbeat. When we mixed
the drum tracks for those albums, we were amazed to find that even
with the focus so completely on the drums, we could still hear and
feel the essence of the melody and musical composition coming through
the beats themselves. So way back then, we started planning some albums
that bring forth the essences of the drums, in a way we hoped would
allow people to really connect with them directly.
Gordon: When we were at those all night drum circles in the mountains
and experienced how expressive world drums and percussion can be and
how the musical conversations you can have with them are every bit
as engaging as melodic instruments.
The way that different beats interlock together can create different
states of consciousness. Tribal cultures from around the world have
used drums and rhythms like this to journey into other realities as
a source of healing and strength for their people.
When you play these rhythms you feel connected not only to each other
but to your ancestors and to the universe. The mind becomes entrained
by the beats and it becomes a form of meditation. You can experience
this by playing in the drum circle or by just listening, if you focus
mwe3: How many different styles of drumming do you feature
on the various Drum Cargo albums? Also, are certain instruments needed
or required for certain drumming styles?
David Gordon: Our intention with the Drum Cargo series was
to represent many cultures and styles, to find the connections...
Youll hear everything from African, Afro-Cuban, Native American,
Celtic, Middle Eastern and Brazilian.
Steve Gordon: In our combined collection of drums we have everything
we needed for all of these styles. We have a great selection of drums
from all the cultures needed. It really would not have been possible
to create this series of recordings without having this selection
of drums. The drums were all authentic and it was a wonderful experience
to be surrounded by all of these instruments during the recording
sessions. It really gave us a sense of energies within each of the
cultures that seemed both different and similar at the same time.
What was the writing / recording process like for the Drum Cargo
Rhythms Of Earth album? Was there a lot of preproduction and also
a lot of improvisation to match the compositional ideas?
David Gordon: For each song we started with a rhythm from one
of the cultures and played them on the drums from that heritage. Then
we combined those rhythms with others from other cultures that would
sync well with the core beat for each track. At the same time, we
thought of which element we were evoking and selected instruments
that would have that result.
Steve Gordon: Once we have those beats and instruments chosen
for each track, we played them together allowing the magic of the
moment to guide the interplay of our parts. There is something particularly
magical that happens when you improvise using only rhythm instruments.
You interlock parts with the other musicians in a way that goes beyond
what happens when there are also melodic instruments. Also most of
us had played together many times so there was really good chemistry
between us which we were able to draw upon.
mwe3: What cultures did you discover are best known for using
tribal drumming in their cultural or religious activities and was
drumming probably the first music made? Even back to the cave man
days. Did it go from the drum to the flute and from there to the infinite?
Gordon: All of the cultures included on these albums have rich
histories of using tribal drumming in their societies. We found it
wherever we looked! Music and dance is universal - at the core of
all cultures from the very beginning. Drums were not the first music
though, first came singing, then flutes and drums. The power of the
drum for entrainment became essential to the shamanistic and meditative
aspects of the cultures spiritual life.
With these recordings, we wanted to dig deep into the rhythmic heritage
of the Western side of the globe, ranging from African and the Middle
East to the Caribbean, and the Americas North & South.
We didnt include many beats from the Far East because the underlying
meter systems are so different. Were intrigued by the long cycles
of Indian Raga, the interlocking beats of Indonesian Gamelan, and
so much more. Wed like to explore those directions in future
mwe3: What is the oldest drum or other instrument youve
every played and whats the newest? It must be big market to
make drums and other percussion gear including all types of drums
and drumming gear.
David Gordon: The oldest ones we had available to play in our
studio for these albums were the African slit drums. African slit
drums are among the very first drums ever made. They consist of a
round log with some slits hollowed out in the side that give the log
some resonance and its pitch - fairly high pitched for a drum.
They have a sort of clicking wooden sound that you can hear on these
albums. They are played with thin carved wooden sticks.
Gordon: One of the newest ones we played was a waterphone drum
that Kim brought which is a series of metal containers with different
amounts of water in them to create different pitches.
We also used unusual sounds from objects found around the house to
create the different elements such as metal pots and pot lids!
mwe3: With all the computerized file sounds on drums I think
its great youre going back to recording vintage and even
ancient drums. Do you think drumming was more popular in the age before
computers took over?
David Gordon: Acoustic kit drums like in rock bands arent
as central to pop music as they were back then. I remember going to
concerts and the drummer would always take a long solo. The beat is
still there now, but its morphed into sounds made by all sorts
of devices and methods.
Steve Gordon: The essence of drumming is still just as popular
or more so though. Pop music songs are built upon the same legacy
beats. Now theyre often composed on computers using software
like Ableton Live or Logic Pro, but the rhythms are still mostly from
hip hop, rock, blues and jazz, that evolved from African, Afro-Cuban
or even Caribbean rhythms.
mwe3: Tell us about the 2014 Karma Cosmic CD release on Sequoia.
The band is from Germany and Music For Tantra & Meditation is
not their first album right? How would you describe their music, how
did you meet up with them and how did the CD release on Sequoia proceed?
David Gordon: Karmacosmic is an ambient music supergroup featuring
three of Europe's most popular electronic music artists; Rüdiger
Gleisberg, Matthias Grassow and Carsten Agthe. We became aware of
them a few years ago from our European record label associates when
we featured some of their tracks on a couple of the Sequoia Records
electronic music compilations we created: Yoga Salon, Chakra Healing
Zone, and Yoga Salon.
Steve Gordon: Its been a pleasure working with them on
this release and we are really pleased at how the album has been received.
People who were not aware of them instantly loved it and their fans
are thrilled. Music for Tantra and Meditation entered our distributors
top 10 album charts within the first month of its release.
The album is instantly popular among people into yoga because it creates
a very serene yet exotically textured mood that works so well both
for yoga and for the yoga lifestyle. Its the kind of music you
can either put on headphones and disappear into or just play it in
the background at a mellow party.
What kind of album or albums are you considering making next with
the drums as the focus? Are there other directions you and Sequoia
Records could go in while keeping the focus on the drums?
David Gordon: We have a unique idea for a new kind of music
that features world drumming at the core, with new sounds unlike anything
we have heard before.
But wed rather share the sound than explain it in words. Were
considering sending downloads of rough mixes of in-progress tracks
to our fans through our e-mail list in mid 2015. Weve never
done that before and were looking forward to sharing these with
Steve Gordon: When we plan new releases we always search for
a new concept we have not encountered before. This is more interesting
to us and we hope to our listeners as well! We feel more satisfaction
making our contributions to the stream of musical creativity that
Thanks to David Gordon and Steve Gordon @ www.SequoiaRecords.com