by Richard Rodgers, Inner-Views
Over the years, the category called "New Age Music", has undergone much mutation. Retailers are confused, the public has been misled, and the distributors flounder directionless. Walking into the usual music megastore and looking in their New Age section, one is as likely to find Zamfir playing pan pipe Muzak as one is to stumble upon a truly groundbreaking work.
Among the few who boldly go where no musician has gone before, Steve Roach and Michael Stearns have been wayshowers for a number of years now. Hearts of Space has been one of the few labels to retain their integrity while showcasing this type of artist. Now, they have wisely created a subsidiary to their label known as "Fathom". Here, you will encounter soundtracks for the shadow side of life, themes for those powerful passages we move through which cry for unique anthems to accompany them. This new release is a fine example of the direction being taken by this label.
A musical broth of environmental soundscapes, stirred with sculptured synthesizer, indigenous vocalizing and hypnotic rhythms blended to bathe the ears. Once one releases the attention and allows the echo between the notes to settle, blossom and return, the fertile climate of sounds births beats and a songline that bridges between Times. A chant deep in the jungle, the bone shaking roar of a volcano... dense textures descend and envelope us.
These artists paint with a pallet of sonic colors. In a darkened room, with good equipment, landscapes lean and encompass you. When our questions of why and rhyme are released, the pattern coalesces and we see the scenery. Alive and radiant, beings beckon from beyond.
Musicians like these escape definition, even transcend category. You may not be able to hum along with a distinct melody, yet to resonate with their harmonies can bring ecstasy. Acoustic astronauts, they explore a chromatic range from birdsong to the shifting of Earth's tectonic plates with imagination and grace.
Not for the fainthearted, or those seeking casual entertainment. Featured effectively, are live recordings of respectfully collected songs from Peyote, Sundance and Ayhuasca ceremonies. The lucidity of one's perceptive state and the caliber of CD equipment pay big dividends in listening here. Effective soundtrack for playing with pythons by firelight while under mysterious influences.