A stereotypical spring evening, it wasn’t. I finished my meditation and poured myself a steaming mug of decaf joe. I sat back in my easy chair gazing out at the bluish environment as very wet, fine snow was driven from the sky. The kind of snow that soaks through clothing right away like a drizzly rain.
It was a perfect evening to browse through some of my more arcane music albums. At least they are unfamiliar to folks younger than my generation and to people acquainted only with commercial pop music.
Isao Tomita is one of the finest artists when realizing synthesized orchestral classical music. This CD was recorded in Linz, Austria in 1984. He played masterful versions of Strauss, Stravinsky, Wagner, Beethoven and Vaughan Williams. His realization of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” wasn’t kitschy as one would expect. The highlight of the album is the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony…the Linz State Theatre Chorus’ performance is spine tingling in its goodness.
The “Hearts of Space Universe 3” disc is filled with primo space and ambient music. The cuts are a sampler of Stephen Hill’s public radio weekend show, “Music From The Hearts Of Space”. Stalwarts include Michael Stearns, Steve Roach, Tim Story, Zeus Faber and several more talents. This was a premium gift one year for subscribers to Nebraska Public Radio. I wanted the CD, so I was motivated to contribute.
The “Vision Of Peace” album is 2:23:48 of pure bliss. Ravi Shankar is at his usual best with peerless performing on the Sitar. An interesting twist on CD one is his inclusion of Japanese music played in a blend of Indian and Japanese styling. Susumu Miyashita played Koto and Hozan Yokamoto played his Shakuhachi flute on these blended pieces. CD two is completely devoted to traditional Indian classical music. Two longform Ragas are played to perfection.
Meantime the “Ambient Volume 2” set is one of my all-time most played albums in my collection. It’s a 1993 Virgin Records release of two impeccably mixed CDs. Brian Eno is one of the major stars. Others are, Tangerine Dream, also Klaus Schultze. Penguin Cafe Orchestra makes an appearance, too. A personal favorite is a haunting piece by Jam Nation called “Makong”. I tend to play CD two the most often.
I still spin some vinyl sometimes. Last night, I sampled some cuts from Vangelis’ soundtrack to the movie “Chariots Of Fire”. The album is an old-school electronica staple. The title track did actually chart in its day. The music is still stunning to hear. The Ravi Shankar LP is still used when I decide to add an Indian touch to my meditations. Side two is especially perfect for that purpose. I’ll be playing it later this week. In that he recorded the album on Deutsche Gramophone speaks volumes as to the level of finesse that Guru Shankar attains.
When it comes to my all-time favorite artist, nobody can excel Jean-Michel Jarre. Among his finest early albums is “Equinoxe”. As far as electronica, the French master created the acme of contemporary composition in any instrumental genre. Certainly great in electronica circles. When I’m in the mood for some old-school Japanese New Age backgrounds, I play a dub of this album by Azuma. It’s somewhat highly structured as compared to other New Age albums but not as much nor as harsh as music from Kitaro. This self-titled LP is great for encouraging creative efforts.
Now you know what will be in my CD player and on my turntable this week. Thanks to the indoor friendly spring weather we’re experiencing, I was able to again, preview these selections.
The Blue Jay of Happiness really enjoys the hypnotic Shakuhachi performances by Hozan Yokamoto.