"Tales Of The Night Wind"

Belly Dance Music Review
by Laurel Victoria Gray

True to its name, Tales Of The Night Wind paints an evocative musical landscape. Dancers will find much in these compositions to nourish their creative spirit. Like the American belly dance for which it was written, Tales Of The Night Wind offers an interpretive vision of the Middle East. The songs, however, are solidly based on traditional Arabic and Turkish rhythms, capably rendered an the dumbek by Bal Balducci, and overlaid with Steven Flynn's magical melodies inspired by Eastern modes and makams.

Originally created by Steven Flynn to accompany the bellydance instructional video "Delilah's Bellydance Workshop," Tales Of The Night Wind reflects the dynamic and emotional quality of the performer for whom they were composed. Here is music for dancing and for dreaming. The moods conveyed encourage the imagintion to wander through that exotic realm which may only exist in the tales of the Arabian Nights, but which is ever-so appealing to the Western mind.

By his own admission, the composer has not attempted to create "authentic" sound, but his work does capture the spirit of Middle Eastern music. Using rhythm tracks with live performances of dumbek, zills, tambourine, and other percussive elements, Flynn has employed synthesizer for his melodies. Happily, the sound is not really "electric" but closer to the acoustical qualities of trditional instruments such as nay, mizmar, and oud. The ethnic flavor is at times wedded to passages that are jazzy or bluesy, but one must listen very closely to catch tbese fleeting "quotations." This tasteful blending of East and West produces a sound which is extremely accessible to Western audiences who might have difficulty with traditional Middle Eastern music.

The pieces which make up Tales Of The Night Wind stand on their own and are not joined together as a belly dance routine, although a performer could rearrange the order for that purpose. "Ya Delilah" is bold and assertive, sure to inspire any dancer to toss her head and say, "Here I am!" Almost tongue-in-cheek, the bluesy 6/8 entitled "Caravanserai" brings to mind a sultry femme fatale slinking about the stage to heavy tribal rhythms which seem to come straight frow the qaria. This piece would be great fun for a troupe choreography.

Appropriately named, "Dream Weavers" is sheer mystery. The subtle echo effects conjure up intrigue; the masmoudi rhythm adds tension. A scene from a film comes to mind: "A bamboo curtain parts. There stands The Dancer. She enters the room where, in spite of the overhead fans, patrons perspire heavily. Like a serpent, she glides across the floor. Suddenly, her eyes meet those of the Master Spy... " Such day-dreams surface easily when listening to Tales Of The Night Wind. Equally haunting, the karsilama "Orient Express" sends the mind off on the rails to adventure.

Poignant and melancholy, "Ruth" will allow dancers to display a range of emotions which can heighten the drama of their performance. The chifte-telli "Lilith" is definitely a highlight. A strong, compelling beat provides the backbone for the piece which is overlaid with a breathy, reedy melody. Hissing sounds at an almost sublimal level create steamy atmospherics. Lilith, in Hebrew lore, was Adam's first wife who, because she refused to submit to him, was banished to the Red Sea area. She then devoted herself to the seduction of lone men, among other things. "Lilith" will awaken the primordial vamp lurking in every woman.

"Angelita", the bolero, was the song which Delilah chose for her memorable veil performance. It has a bitter-sweet taste of innocence and longing touched by sorrow. Yet hope reigns supreme in this piece. "Angelita" and many of the other sclections from Tales Of The Night Wind are so memorable that they will surely become favorite selections in the American oriental dancer's repertoire.

A professional musician for thirteen years, Steven Flynn is best known as a member of Seattle's favorite rock-and roll-band. Junior Cadillac. For the past three years, Flynn has composed "sound environments" for several Visionary Dance Praductions releases. He is currently working on the sound-track for Volume Three of "Delilah's Belly Dance Workshop." A sneak preview of one of the pieces created for that project assures that the American belly dancer can look forward to more exciting and inspiring music composed for her unique dance form.

Available from Visionary Belly Dance Productions, PO Box 30797 Seattle, WA 98I03 / 206-632-2353
Cassettes $10; CDs $16.50. Shipping: $3.00

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