“BEYOND SUMMER” by Scott August
One significant effect summer has on us is to make us feel alive. It’s a fun time of year filled with scintillating feelings synonymous with freedom. How we would love to take these feelings with us far beyond the season. “Beyond Summer,” the seventh album from Scott August, is just like that. Here, we can take those pleasurable, dreamy, reflective, and memorable moments with us into the inevitable autumn, winter, and eventual spring. “Beyond Summer” is like a delicious, exhilarating, eternal summer that makes our spirits soar.
New Mexico based, award winning multi-instrumentalist, Scott August is well-known for his Native American style flute playing. In addition to being a recording artist, he owns and operates The Santa Fe Flute School.
Here on his album, “Beyond Summer,” in addition to the Native American flute, he also incorporates Chinese Xiao flute and a re-creation of an ancient Pueblo/Anasazi style flute. Other instrumentation on the album includes, drums, kalimbas, marimbas, an oud (a mid-Eastern fretless lute), guitar – both acoustic and pedal steel – piano, hammered dulcimer, atmospheric synth pads, and rhythm loops.
“Beyond Summer” is eleven tracks and almost one hour of a tantalizingly warm caress that opens with the upbeat, expansive, “Spirit of the Canyon.” Here the zesty flute melody intertwines beautifully with the driving drums, percussion, oud, and guitar. It’s perfect, and our spirits are there gliding gracefully through the canyon, celebrating the vastness of life.
Following is “Empty Highways,” an easy favorite. Its hammered dulcimer, drums, bass, and an atmospheric keyboard pad entice us into the enchanting journey before the engaging flute melody enters in. I love it, and could listen to this one again and again, which I did. Interestingly, this song – as well as the title track “Beyond Summer,” and the track “Buffalo Dance” – was recorded live to video in Scott’s studio. Here in these videos we get a condensed, insider view of how he creates his musical art. You can see these on his website here: https://cedarmesa.com/videos/. (Note: The video for the song “Empty Highways” is still in post-production at the time of this review).
“High Desert Dreams” takes us then from the highway way up to the mesosphere. This is dreamy, flowing, and melodic, featuring the Pueblo/Anasazi style flute, which is rich, warm, and low-toned, and incorporating pan drums and guitars as well. All this sumptuousness is layered like fine silk and satin on a soft bed of pulsing percussion. We can easily get lost in this pleasant eight-minute meditative daydream. It’s a vacation.
The title track, “Beyond Summer,” was the first “live to video” Scott created. Be sure to check out the video by visiting the link above. It’s fascinating to watch him create. This is a brilliant assortment of instrumentation that perfectly captures the essence of sultry summer days filled with dreams. It’s a tune that will warm your heart long after the hues of summer melt into the horizon.
The six-minute long “A Day with You,” is the first song on the album featuring a Chinese Xiao flute. Silky and smooth, with a rhythmic, percussive underlay, the song paints an ambient, dreamy, reflective soundscape that feels very much like an intimate conversation.
The hypnotic, mesmerizing “Buffalo Dance” features three different Native American style flutes ranging in tonal quality from low to high. The masterful combination of these flutes along with the pulsating beat connects us to our ancient souls. Be sure to watch the video, as this was also recorded “live to video,” so you can see the song evolve as it’s being created. Amazing.
The reverent “Chaco Mystery,” featuring a lone Pueblo/Anasazi style flute, was recorded live during a performance in Tucson, AZ. This song speaks to Chaco Canyon (New Mexico), which was once long ago a major culture center for ancient Pueblo people. Many Chacoan buildings, called “Great Houses,” were skillfully constructed in alignment with solar and lunar cycles, as well as containing highly valued items. However, eventually, the canyon was abandoned by the Chacoans, reasons only surmised. The song, just as skillfully constructed, paints us a quite vivid picture of these remarkable ancient ruins.
We can almost see and feel the native beauty of the land in the graceful, flowing song, “Valley of Gold.” Native American flute, piano, rhythmic drum loop, ethereal synth pads, and guitar form a spellbinding, eternal dance. This is like a liquid river of tranquility.
The Far East flavor of the exotic “Journey to Kashgar” (a confluent trading post on The Silk Road), feels much like a desert oasis. This track features the sweet, soothing, Chinese Xiao flute along with rhythm and percussion underlay that masterfully travels in and out and opens up into expansive vistas.
Aren’t you just excited for the day? The serene, stirring, and quite beautiful, “Temple at Dawn” opens our hearts to the embrace of life. The sweetness of the Chinese Xiao flute really shines through here. This is a warm and gentle breeze.
The album closes out with the ultra-relaxing “Shadow of Time.” Dreamy piano, guitars, and ethereal pads give us space for reflection on our journey, as well as time to dream – perhaps of next summer.
Get “Beyond Summer” here: https://cedarmesa.com
See Scott’s videos here: https://cedarmesa.com/videos/