Blue Chip Orchestra — Red Sky Beat (1998)

Blue Chip Orchestra – Red Sky Beat (1998)

For all that Native American music (and art, and culture, ad nauseum) is all the rage these days, it’s still pretty unusual to come across a recording that at least tries to incorporate elements of that music without destroying it. At first, one would hesitate to bet on Blue Chip Orchestra, an Austrian group that likes to play with electronics. But Red Sky Beat works surprisingly well, with a light touch on the synthesizers and much attention paid to musicality. A synth bass pairs off with a sung melody; electronic sounds, bubbly as a glass of champagne, complement a flute; there are acoustic and electronic drums and percussion and natural sounds that might or might not be computer-generated. That two such apparently disparate forms of music are even brought together on one recording places Red Sky Beat in a select group; that for the most part the result is successful places the CD in a class by itself.

A powerful fusion of European pop electronics and Native American ceremony from Blue Chip Orchestra. Austria’s Blue Chip Orchestra sets the earthy drumming, soulful chanting and hypnotic percussion of native music into a panoramic 3-D soundscape with awesome results. Strange beings appear in the Dakota myth of creation. ITE, the seductively beautiful daughter of an old sorcerer and his wife, lives underneath the earth. The young woman contrives to ensure a lucrative future and marries the god of the winds, TATE. She gives birth to the four winds but doesnt take care of her children too well, as her interests lie more in flirting with WI, god of the sun. This upsets and shames Wi’s wife HANWI, the moon. There is of course a trickster pulling strings behind the scenes: the devilish IKTOMI, who enjoys tempting and ridiculing people.

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But then SKAN, god of the sky enters, acting the part of authority and judge. As a severe punishment he separates moon and sun. Ite’s pretty face is split into an ugly and beautiful half. After giving birth to a little whirlwind, she has to leave her family. Her husband Tate stays with the household.

The dreadful story almost repeats itself when Tate takes WHOPE into his tipi. Whope at first appears as a shimmering object; she turns out to be the daughter of the star people (perhaps hinting at the existence of ET’s?) The winds all fall in love with her. Without any major quarrel she chooses OKAGA, the south wind, and the happy couple are given an elaborate wedding gift by all the invited gods. For their pleasure, they get the whole world. Is this the first human couple on earth?

Not at all. The scene switches without any further explanation. We are back with the wicked joker Iktomi and the double faced Ite, who have made a special deal. They both feel a bit bored and lonely. Ite wants her people to leave the underworld and live on top of the earth where they could at least have meat and clothing. Some of the courageous ones led by the young warrior TOKAHE are attracted to this luxury and finally settle in the land of pines and ghosts. For the Dakota people, they are the founders of humanity.

Ancestral stories like these are also found in the legends of the Australian Aborigine dream time or in the old shaman songs of central Siberia. Compared to them, our biblical story of Genesis seems to be as rational as those of our modern scientists. The similarity between the Jewish Genesis and our scientific picture of the world is certainly not accidental. But one thing they both have left out is the spirit world.

In the Native American Genesis the highest god WAKANTANKA doesn’t appear on the scene at all. He stays in the background. On the next lower level of consciousness live the deathless ghosts and demons. They are not bound to space and time, but are considered a creative and created part of the whole. The connection between this level and the physical is somewhat irrational and not causal for example the wind god Okaga and the star peoples daughter Whope do not procreate human children but rather represent their timeless soul. The first people leave their cave (symbolizing a prenatal room) for the earth, attracted by the promise of meat and clothing. Is the genesis a process in which spirit beings become more and more dense and material? In any case it is a mysterious story in spite of all the familiar human qualities applied to the heroes.

The Blue Chip Orchestra chose some of these archetypes as a guide for a musical journey through the spirit realm. Authentic Native Indian chants, flutes, rattles, drums and nature sounds combine creatively with electronic sounds. The effect is that modern listeners can experience the inclusive consciousness of the shaman. The earthly tones and sounds blur, echoing in a surreal space, as sounds from beyond and beneath the earth blend into a virtual psychedelic experience.

The wall between this and the other world becomes elusive and partly disappears. Bognermayr’s and Zuschrader’s compositions have an atmospheric density that could trigger a shamanistic journey. Appropriately the Siberian overtone singing in the Iast piece is associated with the most ancient god of the rock, Inyan. It is said that 30,000 years ago the Native Americans came from central Siberia, crossing the Bering Strait into North America.

Those who are not into Shamanism and ancestral ghosts may focus on the meeting of archaic and electronic sounds or simply enjoy Blue Chip’s artistry in aesthetic terms. It is an open concept. Playful fantasy and sonic mastery are guaranteed.


01. Blue chip orchestra – Ate Heve Loi.mp3
02. Blue chip orchestra – Skan The Sky.mp3
03. Blue chip orchestra – Asi Ies Gold And White.mp3
04. Blue chip orchestra – Ite.mp3
05. Blue chip orchestra – Buffalo Trail.mp3
06. Blue chip orchestra – Hanwi The Moon.mp3
07. Blue chip orchestra – Maka The Enrih.mp3
08. Blue chip orchestra – Okaga And Whope.mp3
09. Blue chip orchestra – Tate The Wiad.mp3
10. Blue chip orchestra – Invan The Rock.mp3

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Nicholas Wilson
I am glad to present on this site my collection of music in the Worldmusic, Enigmatic, Chillout style, and also my interesting serial collections of electronic music such as Buddha Bar, Cafe del Mar, and other

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