Evolution of spiritually acoustic electronic to New Age Music to…
Are the stars aligned for a New Age Music revival? Something weird struck me over the holidays as this year came to a close…While looking at the current top selling albums listing, I wondered what was going on, what year was I presently in and going to? Sarah Brightman, Enya and Loreena McKennitt. Hmm… Yes! are the stars aligned for a New Age music revival? Or is there a connection to a New World music invasion?
New Age music has come a long way since its conception by German musicians in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. They released a number of works featuring experimental sounds and textures built with synthesizers, acoustic and electric instruments. It was referred to as ‘Cosmic music’ than, spawning the offspring of ambient music and New Age music genres in the process. In 1973 Mike Oldfield’s unconventional progressive rock album ´†Tubular Bells†ª became one of the first albums to be referred to as new age music. In 1977 a slew of album releases continued this trend and took the world by storm. Jean Michel Jarre’s “OxygËne”, Brian Eno’s “Before & After Science” and Klaatu’s “Hope” albums, were significant recordings that became the soundtrack to the New Age music movement. Music buyers who not only willed to expand their musical horizons, now had a companion for their newly awakened consciousness. While promoting yoga, meditation, spirituality and well being, New Age music attracted new artists and followers towards this unique form of transcendental music.
During the 1980’s, the term « New Age music » was coined by radio stations and then applied by music retailers and record companies, as a marketing ‘tag’ to a variety of non-mainstream instrumental music styles. Yet it was in 1988 that the world embraced and officially recognized this type of feel good music. Enya’s album “Watermark” catapulted to the top of the sales charts around the world with her song “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)”. She mesmerized listeners with her layered vocals, synthesized backdrops and pop music hooks. New Age music had become a serious musical commodity in the highly competitive business of music. Artists such as Yanni, John Tesh and Zamfir rode this wave and sold millions of records, playing to sold out venues worldwide at the peak of its popularity. Imagine that…
Initially, vocal arrangements were rare in New Age music, but as it evolved vocals and background harmonies became exotic. In the1990’s the group Enigma utilized Gregorian chants over a bed of synthesized beats on their stellar album “MCMXC a.d.” and began to mesmerize the world with their chart topping hit song “Sadeness Part 1”. Enya continued to enjoy steady success during the 1990s with “Shepard Moon”, while her 2000 album “A Day Without Rain” achieved 15 million record sales and was named the World’s biggest selling female artist of 2001. The diva Sarah Brightman exploded onto the world music scene with her long play recording “Dive” and spawned the worldwide hit “Captain Nemo” as a serious competitor of this popular new sound. Canadian singer/songwriter Marcomé also attracted global attention in 1995 with her stunning debut album “Seven Seas”. This album featured her ethereal voice, layered keyboards, folk melodies, and Middle Eastern reverberations.
New Age music never left us; it just morphed into New World music. Deep Forest, b-Tribe, Loreena McKennitt, and Jah Wobble are just a few of its prolific artists. I will leave that topic for next week. New Age music also has deep roots in ambient, chill, lounge, techno and trance music. But I’ll leave that for future discussions.
In the big picture each type of music style is somehow connected.
Anyways… This is how I hear things.