CD REVIEWS - Primal Elements

Source: The Press Democrat 1-23-2000

Undisputed champion of the one-man didgeridoo bandstand, Andy Graham has no rival when it comes to blending Old World aboriginal sound with New World drumscapes. Making the most of dedicated circular breathing, he conjures a warbling soundscape of cosmic bird-chirpings and bullfrog symphonies. The echoes and reverberations, occasionally sounding demonic, other times define the precursor to video game sound effects (remember "Defender" and "Qbert?").

In his arsenal are several didgeridoos, a drum kit, djembe, ashiko, shakers, sticks, jaw harp, and a sawblade. But what separates "Primal Elements" from many other solo didgeridoo soundoffs is Graham's knack for bridging regular drum kit kicks with tribal musings. Just sample "Didgefunk," "Thunder" and "Tantra" for a taste of the didgeridoo meets old-school Run-DMC, with an occasional round of stadium rock beats thrown in for good measure. The breathy "Rite of Passage" is a winded journey that captures all the loneliness of a long distance desert runner.

Stripped of all devices but hands to leather, "Djembe" is little more than a drumming exercise, but it still captivates. Likewise, "Hyperspace" remains unadulterated, this time keying in on the didgeridoo, starting with a hollow, resonating growl and growing into a polyrhythmic throat dance.

- JOHN BECK The Press Democrat

Source: Section M Magazine 5-1-2000

From the very beginning, your ears are tickled by the ominous vibrations of the didgeridoo, backed by various percussive instruments. You start to get the feeling you should be burning incense and chanting mantras while your robed brethren meditate on the meaning of life. Allowing yourself this out-of-body experience, you come to realize the beauty of simplicity. The instrumental tracks assist you in forgetting the troubles and toils of the daily rat race we scramble through.You are starting to tune in to Primal Elements, Andy Graham's cornucopia of tribal masterpieces.

By putting together a few of the basic sounds from the ancients, Andy Graham has woven a complicated tapestry of tunes to be enjoyed by any and all ages. Choose from a selection that can have you anywhere from nodding your head to the beat to absolute stillness, appreciating the tranquil solitude of monks in a holy temple. This CD can accommodate whatever mood you may be in, and when listened to in its entirety, will take you on an excursion where life was very different in a land far, far away.

An asset to any music collection, Primal elements exploits the delicate balance of a polished studio recording with no more than the bare essentials. Proof to the minimalist philosophy that less is more - this one's a keeper. Pick up a copy for yourself. You'll be glad you did when you achieve a greater piece of mind. Just don't forget the prayer rug.

RAVN - Section M Magazine



Excerpt from: Rich Stillman reporting from COMDEX Trade show / Las Vegas

Thursday, November 16, 2000

Using performers to attract people to a sales pitch has been a hallmark of Comdex booths since the beginning. I've seen everything from magicians and comedians to full song and dance revues worthy of Broadway. IBM, at their Comdex peak in the early 90s, had Paula Poundstone and Gallagher doing hourly shows for the full five days.

But Internet Appliance, a maker of Internet routers for small businesses, came up with an idea nobody else has apparently thought of before. They hired a really good world beat musician to lure people in for the sales pitch. They then announced that they'd give everyone in the audience a copy of his CD after the presentation was over. Anyone who heard this guy wanted a copy of the CD, so he got people to not only come to the presentation, but to stay. A CD seems like an expensive giveaway, even though they probably cost the company less than a dollar apiece. The musician, Andy Graham, got to spread his music to a few thousand people. Everybody wins.

Don't you just love happy endings?



By: Jon Minners

Recently while at the PC Expo, I was able to hear Graham perform and I picked up his CD and gave it a listen. For music without words, it is pretty damn good. Most of the songs, in fact, all of them contain phat beats that keep your head nodding, even when you aren't aware of it.

It has this electronica feel to it, but also maintains a traditional feel due to the instruments being played. The music is rather hypnotizing. I felt mellow and comforted as the music played and I thoroughly enjoyed it even though I normally don't appreciate music like that.

The song Evolution is just the beginning of it all. Tantra continues this trend making you want to lay back and just think happy thoughts. Rite of Passage is cool as it sounds similar to the first two songs, but adds a rhythmic breathing that starts off slowly and then increases in speed, giving it a pumped up feel perfect for any form of exercise you desire. It kicks ass!

Thunder and Djembe sound too similar to the first two songs and Solitude lasts so long, over twenty minutes, which is pretty cool, cause as you listen, you too begin to feel as if you were in solitude. Pretty deep stuff here.

Andy Graham plays music that just feels right. It's good for the mind, as it is very comforting. The beats were phat and the music gets intense in certain areas. This is one of those unknown treasures. There is talk of him working on movie soundtracks and appearing on national television.

Wherever he goes nest, be sure to give him a listen. You'll wonder why you never heard of him before.


Source: Sonoma West Times and News 9/16/01

Didgeridoo and Sebastopol Too - By Margot Comstock

He was driving from his native L.A. to the northwest in his Volkswagen bus when he decided he'd rather be seeing the beach than highway 101. So he cut to the coast, the nearest route happened to be highway 12, and on the way west he fell in love--with Sebastopol.

That was 1990, and percussionist Andy Graham doesn't want to live anywhere else. "This is where I'm gonna stay," he says. He's willing to travel though--with his drums, his Primal One-Man Band, and, most important, his didgeridoo--anywhere folks want to listen to his first love, his earthy rhythms, his music.

Graham has a habit of falling in love--and staying there. Purely a drummer at the time, he was on his way out of a fair in Seattle in 1994 when he heard a strange sound. He stopped, followed the sound, and listened for hours to someone playing the didgeridoo.

"I never sought this; it kind of found me," he says. "I just had to keep messing with it." It's been the most important thing--outside of people--in his life ever since.

Music, at least percussion, has been there all along.

"My mom said I was always tapping," says Graham about how long he's been a drummer. He actually began playing real drums around age 10. He was happy with them. "If someone had told me I'd be playing a wind instrument, I wouldn't have believed them," he says.

But the didgeridoo has many of the elements of percussion. A droning sound is its base, although the musician can introduce variation with his voice, a technique called the dingo, for instance, which involves yelping through the didgeridoo--rather like the Aussie wild dog. But the tone varies little within each instrument. The resonance is powerful. "It reaches a gut level," Graham says. He describes his didgeridoo music as "ancient, primal soundscapes."

"The didgeridoo seems to fit with everything--heavy metal, dance music," he adds. "It's part of the drums and drone instruments that are basic to all cultures. There are some pieces that will put you into a trance, if you listen long enough."

The didgeridoo is a wind instrument, in fact that's all there is to it--a hollowed out tube of wood and wind--the musician's wind. Created by Australian Aborigines, the instrument is usually made from a Eucalyptus branch that has been naturally "termite-hollowed," found as is. The Aborigine musicians "knock loose stuff out of the branch and start playing."

Even manufactured didgeridoos are branches. It's the irregular inside of the tube that gives each didgeridoo its unique sound; the tone is dictated by the length of the instrument. They can be very long--and very heavy.

Graham built a rack that holds three didgeridoos so that he can play drums and the didgeridoos at the same time. Not long ago, having played with bands, he decided to go solo, and created his unusual "one-man" band. The instruments are his standard drum set--well, almost standard; he crafted them himself at Empire West in Graton, for which he works as a machinist; African drums and djembe, and the several didgeridoos.

Graham has only praise for Empire West. "They are really nice and accommodating," he says, "freeing me up to play at trade shows and school assemblies."

But his music is his dream and his vision. He sees a place for the didgeridoo sound in movie soundtracks, and backing up recording artists. He'd love his music to be his livelihood.

"And it's beginning," he says.

Graham is enthusiastically helping his own cause. He's performing at the Merlo Theatre of Luther Burbank Center this Friday as part of a "Peace, Love, & Music" showcase, and again on September 8 at A'Roma Roaster's Coffee House in Santa Rosa. You might have caught him making music in Sebastopol Plaza last summer.

On top of that, he's willing to train his competition through didgeridoo clinics teaching techniques such as circular breathing (where you keep playing even while you inhale), playing styles, "animal noises, and other sound effects." The clinics, to be held on September 20 at People's Music in Sebastopol and on September 27 at Jungle Vibes Nature Store in Petaluma, cost $25--with a copy of Graham's first CD, Primal Elements, thrown in.

The didgeridoo has been around for tens of thousands of years, and with the enthusiasm and creative imagination of musicians like Andy Graham, it looks good for at least a few more eons.