The Way To Be Free (March 2015)

Hammered Dulcimer CD by Mike Tamburo

Expansive inner-journeys into world-opening passages as told by Mike Tamburo through hammered dulcimer, drones and tones, and other instrumentation.

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Mike Tamburo, also known as Brother Ong and one part of Crown of Eternity, has returned to his renowned practice of hammered dulcimer in his latest release composed between 2010 and 2015, The Way to Be Free. Travelled upon, dissipated, and re-worked through multi-layered wanderings, Tamburo’s The Way to Be Free treads old practices and phases through the complicated inter-workings of his most expansive string works to date. The Way to Be Free is a comprehensive exploration of an artist’s massive perceptual shifts as told through compositions that travel memories of past performance, the stripped bare return to disappeared collaborations, and the complexities found in the relationship between musician and instrument.

Culling informative listenings of Dorothy Carter, Alice Coltrane, Shivkumar Sharma, Robbie Basho, Sandy Bull and John Fahey, Mike Tamburo’s explorations of hammered dulcimer are positioned in deep wanderings to understand American identity through folk music. As a veteran of the DIY avant- garde and improvisation circuit, as well as his more recent work with meditation music and formless sound, Tamburo’s extensive touring has culminated in a multiplicative approach to the engagements experienced through his road-traversed interpretations of anywhere USA. How this manifests in Tamburo’s work is applicable in the sounds of The Way to Be Free: the music evokes a sense of experienced external travel defiant of a permanent destination, allowing the listener to act as a dislocated traveler repeatedly embarking on the recording’s voyages for contemplative discovery.

Tamburo’s The Way to Be Free offers the listener an intricate sincerity evoked in the album’s most tender renderings. As a companion to soft considerations, Tamburo doesn’t hesitate to present the listener with challenging confrontations. The most intimate moments meander into controlled manias, hard-tinged hammered dulcimer drumbeat regions, and controlled corridor-like repetition. Ascent comes at a cost in The Way to Be Free, and it is reflective of Tamburo’s journeys and exploratory phasing(s) necessary for artists to expand and grow beyond their foundations.

– Ed Steck


released March 30, 2015

Mike Tamburo – The Way To Be Free

1. Old Gypsy Way of Calling Upon Spirit
2. Evil Spirits Be Damned/Clan of the Kukeri
3. The Way To Be Free
4. The Unknowing

Mike Tamburo – Hammered Dulcimer, Electric Guitar, Bass VI, Wavedrum, Percussion, Harmonium

Gallina Tamburo – Harmonium on Old Gypsy Way of Calling Upon Spirit

Michael Dodin – Tabla on The Way To Be Free

Anthony Molina – Mellotron on The Way To Be Free

Track 1 recorded by Eric Carbonara at Nada Sound/Forge Recording
Tracks 2,3,4 Recorded By Mike Tamburo at Sounds Eternal
Tracks 1,3,4 Mixed By Anthony Molina At White Light Recording Studio
Mastered By Eric Carbonara

“…from the first note of Mike Tamburo’s The Way to Be Free, such auto-associations disappear. Tamburo’s extensive experience as a player, improviser, and composer colors every note he plays; his hammered dulcimer expositions are as personal and compelling as if he had plucked them out on an acoustic guitar.”  
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~March Masters – The Outdoor Blog

“Tamburo, a Pittsburgh-based multi-instrumentalist known by the Brother Ong name, also draws upon the American folk and minimalist music traditions for the material; one therefore might describe The Way To Be Free as music with clear ties to multiple genres yet dressed primarily in Indian garb. Don’t be surprised if while listening to the album you’re reminded at different times of artists such as Alice Coltrane, Robbie Basho, and John Fahey.”  
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“…Beatific gong herder Mike Tamburo reprised his work on hammer dulcimer with a new collection this week, The Way To Be Free, comprising multi-track recordings from 2010 to ’15 that air definitively on the relaxing side…A companion to “contemplative discovery,”  
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~DWIGHT PAVLOVIC – Decoder Magazine