Entries in Moon Rock (3)


The Loose Control Band - "Theme in E♭"

Throne of Blood's Moon Rock series returns on November 10. Catch my Roots of Moon Rock ambient primer for the Throne of Blood podcast.


The New Guard of New Age: Emerging Artists and Labels Shaping the Revival of New Age Music in 2014

New Age Revivalphoto by Monique Froese
The notion of a revival in new age music came stampeding to the attention of the music media sometime last year upon the release of two key reissue compilations: Yoga Records' I Am the Center: Private Issue New Age Music in America, 1950-1990 and Laraaji's Cosmic Tape Experiments, 1979-1987. Once these releases impacted, it seemed that every indie-leaning music site on the web had published its own lengthy new age feature. Media giants The New York Times, The Stranger and Boing Boing even grabbed a slice. Suddenly this entire counterculture-shunned musical discipline was a hot talking point and open for reexamination. Entire decades of meditative music were rediscovered and newly cherished by puffed up record collectors.

The coverage of this alleged revival seemed to fixate on reissues and the genre's early works. Artists and labels releasing new music under the new age umbrella were not discussed with much depth. So I've written some thoughts and observations on these emerging projects. My findings have shown me that new age has indeed returned, and it has a newfound reverence of the genre's lost heroes, who were explored on the abovementioned compilations.

Before we get started, perhaps I owe an explanation of what new age is, or at least how I think about it. Like "world music" or "electronic music," "new age music" is less of a genre and more of a broad category concerned with mood and function over any definitive tenants of rhythm or instrumentation. It started as a fragmented movement with roots in California in the 1970s. It was strongly aligned with new age literature, and new age bookstores became a romping ground for artists to peddle their limited-run home recordings. Ambient music pioneer Brian Eno campaigned against conventional "environmental music" in his linear notes for Music for Airports in 1978. (It's easy enough to assume that he was targeting many examples of new age.) "Conventional background music is produced by stripping away all sense of doubt and uncertainty (and thus all genuine interest)," he wrote. In a crueler world, Eno might have written, "Calming music intended for a general audience doesn't tickle my hipster funny bone, so you shouldn't like it either." This was likely a landmark moment in the demise of new age as a credible musical discipline. By the mid '80s it had become identified as a more commercial enterprise.

The new artists and labels I've spotlit here are making music that harkens back to new age's golden age (as covered last year on I Am the Center and similar releases). While many of these artists align their work with the term new age, others do not and likely shudder at the notion of being labeled as such. In any case, this is merely my attempt at navigating a complicated and controversial reemerging genre.

Read about and listen to the nine featured artists and labels after the jump.

Click to read more ...


Baby Armie - TOB Podcast 038: Roots of Moon Rock

Check this two-hour primer on ambient music I made for Brooklyn-based dance label Throne of Blood. It's a counterpart to their new ambient series, Moon Rock, which features ambient contributions by mostly non-ambient artists. Confoundingly enough, dance icons Jokers on the Scene and Simian Mobile Disco even contributed ambient tracks. That should give you an idea of how disorienting and unexpected this compilation is. But the results deliver. Each contributor sounds right at home with this sound, and the compilation may just end up being one of the better ambient listens of this year.

For this Roots of Moon Rock podcast, my aim was to cover the gamut of influences that make up Moon Rock: Eno-era ambient, German kosmische, '90s IDM, new age, and more. It will serve as a pretty good introduction to ambient, since many of the genre's household names can be found here as well as a number of lesser known artists. There's also plenty of ambient songs by artists not particularly known for ambient work: Carl Craig (as BFC), Kenny Larkin, Move D, Kraftwerk, etc.

Tracklist after the jump.

Click to read more ...