Staff Mask Rattle
Todd Tamanend Clark was born on August 10, 1952 in Greensboro, Pennsylvania, and is of Onodowaga-Lenape descent. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Slippery Rock University and a Master of Arts in Professional Growth from Indiana University. He is the author of four books of poetry including the forthcoming 'Dark Thunder' and is also a long-time civil rights activist with the American Indian Movement and various other indigenous organizations. Clark is an accomplished avant-garde composer whose first recording was released in 1975. He is a versatile multi-instrumentalist who plays synthesizer, sampler, theremin, vocoder, electric guitar, native flute, ocarina, and both electronic and acoustic percussion, as well as vocalizing in a deep and expressive Morrisonian baritone. His six children participate in many of his projects. The album 'Staff, Mask, Rattle' is a twenty-four song cycle based on the Native American history of the northeastern woodlands of Turtle Island. These compositions combine to form a two and a half hour concept album of all instrumental electronic soundscapes that uncannily portray each of their intended topics. The opening cut 'Primal Origins' is a dissonant ambient noisescape using sixteen tracks of overdubbed guitar to approximate the creation of the material universe. 'Roots Of The World Tree' is an electronic drum solo symbolizing the creation of the Earth itself. 'Sky Woman' tells the legend of how the first human came to the Earth by falling through a hole in the Sky World. The bass lines are composed using atonal numerical serial progressions. Lyric Winona Clark plays electric piano. 'Continental Carapace' uses various slowed-down sequences to convey the story of the Great Turtle rising from the depths of the world ocean to swim up under Sky Woman and support her while enlarging and transmogrifying itself into the North American continent. 'The Duality Twins' are the offspring of Sky Woman, who was already pregnant when she arrived on Earth. The positive twin transverses Turtle Island creating helpful megalandscaping while the negative twin follows behind him and twists everything into aggravating grotesqueries. 'Meadowcroft Rock Shelter' (in what is now Washington County, Pennsylvania) is one of the oldest known human habitations in North America. On this track, Clark solos first on a round clay turtle ocarina and then on a long clay snake ocarina over a bed of multiple primitive percussion instruments built by Lyric Winona Clark in order to portray a probable sound of the music of prehistoric cave Indians. 'Grave Creek Mound' (in what is now Moundsville, West Virginia) is a huge over two thousand year old burial site constructed by hand by the Adena mound building culture. Gregory Carr (from the band River Rock) guests on bass guitar. 'Monongahela Villages' sonically recreates the daily village life of the Monongahela people of pre-contact Pennsylvania. Chuck Moses guests on guitar. 'Lenape Turtle Clan' is a tribute to the turtle totem of the aboriginal human beings from what is now Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. Gary 'Cornsmoke' LaCorte guests on the Native American flute. (Four of his solo albums are also available from CD Baby.) 'Houses Of The Haudenosaunee' is a complex orchestral piece that conveys the architectural grandeur of the large seven-to-ten family homes constructed by the Iroquois. The piece is dominated by Clark's huge power chords on guitar, as well as his dramatic tympani fills, and X Tecumseh Clark's stunning electric wah harpsichord playing. 'Onodowaga Wolf Clan' is a tribute to the wolf totem of the people of the great flint in what is now upstate New York. Cornsmoke is again on flute. 'Tadodaho The Sorcerer' was initially a legendary fearsome occult cannibal with snakes for hair, but he eventually reformed under the guidance of The Peacemaker. This song is one of the most frightening pieces ever recorded and would work well in a film soundtrack. 'Peace And Power' combines a richly relaxing tempo with robustly potent accents to end disc one. 'Solar Eclipse' opens disc two with a Doors-Hendrix type psychedelic rock song that recreates the ominous feeling of the eclipse of the sun that occurred on August 31, 1142. 'The League Of Native Nations' honors the oldest continuously practicing democracy on Earth. Sachem Orenda Clark plays an excellent slide guitar solo. 'Guardians Of The Western Door' sounds somewhat akin to Pere Ubu doing mutant disco by way of Skinny Puppy, but all in a tribal context. 'Kit-Tan-Nee' (now known as Kittanning) was the largest indigenous settlement in Pennsylvania west of the Allegheny Mountains until it was destroyed by the colonial invaders in 1757. This song features Neolin Chaska Clark on drums, rattles, sleigh bells, and theremin. 'The Conspiracy Of Pontiac' describes the resistance movement organized by the great Sac-Fox leader from what is now Michigan. It is highlighted by Clark's wild analog synthesizer leads and Chuck Moses' commanding martial guitar playing. 'Allegheny Plus Monongahela Equals Ohio' is a multi-layered composition for woodwinds and synthesizer that recreates a peaceful nature sojurn on the three sacred rivers that meet at Pittsburgh. 'Simon Girty's Decision' sonically describes the tormenting of natives by the military garrison stationed at Fort Pitt that drove Girty to spend the rest of his life fighting on the side of the American Indians. It is one of seven songs on the album on which Clark plays all the instruments himself and is also the closest thing to a commercial radio friendly single on the album. (That is if you happen to listen to a radio station from another dimension.) 'The Warrior Trail' begins at Greensboro, Pennsylvania, and winds for forty-five miles across Greene County and on through the West Virginia panhandle, providing an overland short-cut between the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers. Musically, this song consists of a throbbing tribal beat overlayed with Clark's multitracked avant-garde guitar leads. 'Tecumseh And Tenskwatawa' were the Shawnee brothers who led a later resistance movement that almost stopped the United States at seventeen colonies. Shaman Manitou Clark plays clever metallic percussion instruments throughout, and X Tecumseh Clark plays a Philip Glass type arpeggiated gothic organ solo towards the end. 'Resistance-Survival-Rebirth' is the sociological cycle that many native nations have had to endure under the American Holocaust. This piece sounds like Jimi Hendrix meets Frank Zappa meets King Crimson. Adam Hawkins (from the band Next Stop Earth) plays a hellacious impossible stunt guitar solo on the final section. The concluding number 'Sagoyewatha's Legacy' expresses the message of the great Onodowaga orator who preached that it was fine to use new technology as long as it was in the service of enhancing ones internalized indigenous culture. It is another all Clark tour de force incorporating wah guitar, whammy guitar, lead synthesizer, bass synthesizer, theremin, and electronic drums.