New sounds

When I was in my late teens New Age music arrived on the scene. Artists like David Lanz, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Andreas Vollenveider and others introduced music that was, in many ways, more simple, more ethereal, with just a touch of pop production values, but clearly a counter movement to pop music.  While it was little more than a curious side-show than its own genre deserving of its own radio stations, it became popular enough that one of our local radio stations produced a show every Saturday night called “Digital Star-streams” that would play New Age music. Sometimes it was a mix of various artists and albums, and sometimes they’d play part of a single artist’s album.

I discovered a lot of music through that program that has stuck with me through the years. Philippe Saisse has proven the one that stuck with me most, probably because he followed me into my Jazz phase. Tangerine Dream (their later “Private Music” work for true fans) also has endured well.

That was over twenty years ago, and New Age is all but gone, though it lives on under a diaspora of other monikers, such as Electronica, Trance, Ambient, Minimalism, World Music, Vaporwave, and the like.

Perhaps two years ago I discovered musician Nigel Stanford, who produced a fascinating music video called “Cymatics” with imagery created from various forms of cymatic waves. I listened to a little of his other music and thought it interesting, but nothing really stuck out at the time. “Cymatics” was cool, but lacked staying power.

I recently came across “Cymatics” again, and subsequently found several of his other tracks from his Solar Echoes album available on YouTube. For whatever reason it caught my attention this time, and then began to grow on me. It’s smooth and ethereal with an underlying energy, with interesting harmonies and flirtations with melodies, and a mixture of electronica and analog instrumentation that blends well.

I’ll admit my primary love of this new find is as background music. It provides presence and energy while not demanding attention. But it also rewards the active listener. I like enough I bought the album–in itself a bargain, as you get an hour and a half of music. He’s got another album already out, and a third in pre-release. I shall be watching his career with great interest.

Here’s a sample:

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