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Music

ABSO-FLUTE-LY SERENE: Peter Phippen releases new album, ‘Into the Ancient’

the 12-track album explores the soundscapes of traditional flutes from around the world throughout time

Parker Reed |

A MUSICAL MAINSTAY: Over the course of his three-decade long career, Phippen has released 22 albums. (Submitted photo)
A MUSICAL MAINSTAY: Over the course of his three-decade long career, Phippen has released 22 albums. (Submitted photo)

While a distinct musical instrument can shape the sonic landscape of a recording, adding a select few unique instruments creates gleaming mystical sonorities to set apart an album from the rest.

Grammy-nominated recording artist Peter Phippen released his new album, Into the Ancient, on Jan. 7. It’s a 12-track album of haunting new age world music played on an assortment of ancient and modern flutes. The record features a captivating collage of the flutes’ translucent chimerical whisper, played skillfully by the Chippewa Valley-based music veteran. The album also features Ivar Lunde expertly expressing himself through subtle electronic sound images.

“With these songs I employ antique instruments as antennae to directly channel the ancient voices of mature seedlings and allow their wails and whispers of time immemorial to be known to those who listen,” Phippen said. “Each vestige of spirituality played demonstrates magical significance not only through the music captured on this album but through the tangible energy that courses through the bamboo or wood as it sits in one’s hands.”

Over the past three decades, Phippen has released 22 albums in a wide assortment of styles, this time settling on the natural folk genre with a penchant for creative and artistic musical improvisation.

During the writing process for the album, Phippen researched the history and performance techniques associated with traditional flutes from around the world throughout time in order to create music befitting the storied instruments.

I have a deep interest in playing the old flutes and museum replicas. I am curious as to what notes were available and how these flutes may have been played in their time.

Peter phippen

chippewa valley-based musician

"I have a deep interest in playing the old flutes and museum replicas,” Phippen said. "I am curious as to what notes were available and how these flutes may have been played in their time. The instruments on Into the Ancient are antiques dating back to the Edo period of Japan, or historically accurate replicas, meaning that the makers of my flute replicas took measurements from the original artifacts, but they did not change the instruments to conform with today’s tunings or playability. This makes the flutes sound more mysterious and unusual.”

MANY MUSICAL AVENUES: In addition to performing as a solo act, Phippen also plays with a handful of bands in the Chippewa Valley. (Photo by Teddy Snider)
MANY MUSICAL AVENUES: In addition to performing as a solo act, Phippen also plays with a handful of bands in the Chippewa Valley. (Photo by Teddy Snider)

As a recording artist, Phippen was the first non-Native American musician signed to Canyon Records, which released his classic 2003 album Night Song. In 2010, his Woodnotes Wyld: Historic Flute Sounds From The Dr. Richard W. Payne Collection album was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Native American Music Album category.

“Phippen’s haunting flute timbres breezily float on the airstream causing the veil to billow, creating a thinning of the filmy curtain to reveal that which has been a mystery for millennia,” Kathleen Joyce-Grendahl, executive director of the World Flute Society, said of Phippen’s new album.


Into the Ancient by Peter Phippen will be available on Jan. 7 on Spotify, Apple Music, and all other major music streaming services. His website is peterphippen.com.