Get ready for a bunch of names we already blather about enough as is. Local music collective Shinkoyo-- which founded Paris London West Nile, now better known as 285 Kent-- has just announced a two-day festival at Downtown Brooklyn's Roulette. Centered around technology and dubbed Mixology, the festival will feature performances by favorites Pete Swanson, M. Geddes Gengras, C. Lavender, and John Elliott's Outer Space. Additional attractions include a children's music workshop conducted by Laraaji and a record fair of labels including Software, PAN, and RVNG. Well, fuck.
The festival is conducted on February 7 and 8 at Roulette. Get the full story on the venue's website.
This is not the full story of New Age. New Age incorporates everything from science fiction to self-help literature, from Jesus freaks (in the Christian hippie sense) to pagans, from women who pose for photographs in white robes to men who sport t-shirts that read “Still crazy after all these beers.”
This, in fact, is barely more than a debriefing on Light In The Attic's compilation of New Age music released this week, I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age In America 1950-1990. The man who compiled it-- Yoga Records jefe, Douglas Mcgowan-- has a passion for the ambient music made in this time period, and wishes to have a hand in preserving it for the ages. He also has a deep respect for the people that made it.
Mark Banning taught guitar to teenage headbangers in a rougher section of Oakland. These lessons were how he helped support his family. Across from a house full of tweakers, he shredded his way to bliss. A post on a forum by one of Banning's former students indicates that they could not figure out why he bothered making such fluffy bullshit, in so many words,
G.I. Gurdjieff was a Christian mystic in Armenia who would amass a sizable and lasting following. You could refer to him as a rascal guru, a man of perverse power plays who would torment his followers to make them question their alliance to him, in hopes that the hazing would fortify their devotion. He was not a musician, but he wrote some harmonium pieces around 1918, which were recorded by an ex-follower a few decades later. Liz Harris of Grouper would grow up in a commune based around his teachings.
Constance Demby believes that sound created the universe. According to Mcgowan's liner notes for the anthology, she built a 10-foot high instrument out of metal rods with a five-octave range.
Michael Stearns, over the years, has had “a lot of ‘experiences’ outside of the consensus reality.” He doesn't choose to make the distinction between earthly and extraterrestrial when it comes to discussing these. He has scored for planetariums, although you may know him best as the man who scored Baraka. His album Planetary Unfolding is an awe-inspiring collection of synthesizer music.
Laraaji walks into a pawn shop with a guitar and walks out a changed man, with an autoharp. The story he has told countless times is that while he stood in there, he was compelled by “spontaneous listening to this inner guidance to buy this zither instrument.” This is the instrument that he would electrify, both figuratively and literally, and busk with on the streets of late '70s New York. This was the busking that would be enjoyed by Brian Eno, who would leave a note for Laraaji to come collaborate with him in studio for his Ambient series. This is the Ambient series which would lead many to credit Eno with the creation of ambient music. Eno himself, would probably agree.
Steven Halpern would not. “I was doing my own version of ambient years before Eno ever got the idea,” he told me while talking to him for this piece. Halpern claims a few firsts, and as a co-progenitor of New Age music with Iasos, he helped define much of the musical language and business workings of the new genre. He claims the first New Age music distributor, the Psychoacoustic Music Club. He will tell a story about the first time he sold his albums. The owner of a local store that sold crystals and books on enlightenment was skeptical about this ambient music Halpern was trying to peddle. An old lady walks in, saying she had been looking for music to meditate to. That's exactly what Halpern was holding in his hand. When he recites this story, he raises the pitch of his voice, as if he is the old lady. In this voice, he sounds eerily like my deceased grandmother used to. I digress. The clerk buys a stack of albums, and Halpern goes to the next store. He tells the brass, “Your competitor just took a dozen albums. You need to do this also.”Read More
Believe it or not, underground electronic music existed before the internet. Long before the noise scene sprung American Syntheszier Music, Flying Lotus spunked out the beat scene, or someone figured out how to get subwoofers inside of North Brooklyn warehouses, a small legion of spiritually in touch experimentalists were releasing pleasant electronic music on private press records. Such small-scale sounds are being compiled and released by Light In The Attic, on I Am the Center: Private Issue New Age Music in America 1950-1990, reports Tiny Mix Tapes. Just a short while ago, Numero Group released a big retrospective of one of the genre's biggest names, Iasos. While some would contend that New Age music was initiated by Steve Halpern in the '70s, the compilation chooses to acknowledge Aremenian mystic, G.I. Gurdjieff as a key predecessor of the movement. There's a killer tracklist here, featuring the likes of Halpern, Michael Stearns, Laraaji, and of course, the Time Traveller himself, James Daniel Emmanuel.
I Am the Center: Private Issue New Age Music in America 1950-1990 is out October 29.