You thought you knew New Age until you knew a Newer Age.
It’s evidently hard to qualify New Age Music. A search online brings up some recent journalism obsessing over its hip resurgence but it’s rare to find anything other than some top records and rough history. As with all Portal’s features, I try to find a slightly new angle.
Depending on whether you’re speaking to someone who likes New Age or not, will normally get you very different answers on what it is. Ambient musicians normally hate to be coined as New Age (just ask Eno or Budd), Record shops will often categorize New Age alongside ambient (some may have their own ’Shadowfax'-heavy section) and at the very least you’ll find them all in the bargain bins (other than Portland stores it seems - a revered genre going by my last visit).
I sold and stocked ASIP catalog in a shop once (not to be named) on the basis the guy who owned it thought they were all New Age. He even went on to tell prospective customers it was New Age. I couldn’t really argue with him to say why it was or was not, or that it was ambient, or similar, because in his head it all lived under the same umbrella.
Fact Mag captured this conundrum earlier this year;-
"New age music remains misunderstood because new age isn’t a style or a sound but a sensibility; an exceptionally soupy, psychedelic one, at that. Contemporary listeners tend to conflate new age with ambient but their overlap is inconsistent: though much new age music exudes ambient qualities, the reverse is less often the case. In fact, over the years many prominent artists of the movement have rejected association with new age and its trappings, as it’s widely considered to be the domain of quacks and charlatans.” - Britt Brown / Fact Mag.
What I ended up within this Portals feature, is an interpretation of New Age as told through some recent releases, which might not be placed in the New Age bucket when on their own, alongside more immediate/classic-sounding New Age elements.
I am not a big New Age fan if I reflect on records previously identified under the genre, but I asked myself what would happen if I took the stereotypical elements of this style (hopeful, optimistic, uplifting music, religious connotations, enlightenment, spoken word, early synthesizers, the sound of the sea, forest etc etc) and applied it to music I listen to often today?
I gave myself the challenge and followed the flow of the mix not knowing where it would end up. As a genre, New Age seems loose and subjective, but as a theme that traces back to the origins of the name, I think the mix holds-up through the many styles and characteristics that are included across the ~90 mins. Perhaps proving (to me and my own silly challenge at least) that New Age isn’t always a style or genre that can be described or pinned down to a type of music, but more a feeling that’s still evident in music today.
"The phrase itself, of course, is old, invoked over centuries by various mystics and spiritual leaders to refer to an impending, ill-defined future era of enlightenment as a means of instilling hope in their congregation” - Britt Brown / Fact Mag.
Who am I to tell the owner of the record shop that ASIP releases aren’t New Age if he sees hope and new worlds in them…?! I’ll settle for that.
With this approach of not confining New Age to specific tracks, I’m holding off on the track list for now, until some time has passed for you to dive in and take it as a whole. I’ll add the full track list here soon.
Until then, see you in the next life.
Nozomu Matsumoto - Climatotherapy (The Death of Rave)
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - I Am A Thought (Western Vinyl)
Khotin - Dwellberry (Ghostly International)
Imaginary Softwoods - Albion (Field Records)
Akis - New Age Uprising (Part I) (Into The Light)
Martin Glass - Floating To Work (Kit Records)
Ex-Terrestrial - Dreams of Jupiter (1080p)
Graintable - Amarps (Ransom Note)
Varg - Archive 1 “Spit Sugar Free Red Bull Into My Mouth” (Posh Isolation)
Suzanne Ciani - Quadrophonic Part 1 (Atmospheric)
Felicia Atkinson - Vermillions (Shelter Press)
Heavenly Music Corporation - Reentry (Astral Industries)
Eternell - Dancing With Wind (Eternell)
Martin Glass - Welcome to the Four Seasons (Kit Records)
Wanderwelle - Her Name Is Vairumati (Silent Season)
Mark Peters - Twenty Bridges (Andi Otto Remix) (Sonic Cathedral)
Seahawks - Emergence (Cascine)
Dagerlöff - From The Womb To The Tomb (Tigersushi)
Ana Caprix - Terminal (Self Released)
CFCF - Closed Space (Single edit) (BGM Solutions)
DJ Healer - Protectionspell (All Possible Worlds)
Datasette - 65536 KiloEnyas (Self Released)
Jesse Somfay - Levamentum [Aqua Regia] (Tipping Hand)
Parks - Forest (Self Released)
Procedamus In Pace (Paschale Mysterium)
Kettel & Secede - Admittance (Sending Orbs)
Tongues Of Light - Awakening Side (Pre-Cert Home Entertainment)