And You Thought New Age Music Was All Schlock


Various Artists
I Am the Center: Private Issue New Age Music in America, 1950-1990
Light in the Attic
 

New Age music is often associated with spacy sounds and pseudo-mystical hokum, but the intriguing I Am the Center offers a more nuanced perspective. While this two-disc, 20-track set doesn’t entirely escape the slack blandness of New Age clichés, there’s startling diversity to be found in the self-released efforts of these intrepid souls, most of them dating from the ’70s and ’80s. Employing everything from synthesizer and harp, to violin and electric piano, to autoharp and (of course) flute, the oozing songs range in length from two to 13 minutes and may well induce a state of altered consciousness in receptive listeners. Among the highlights: Thomas de Hartmann’s spooky piano sonata “The Struggle of the Magician Part Three,” written by the guru Gurdjieff; the unearthly tones of what might be guitar on Wilburn Burchette’s “Witch’s Will”; and the mind-melting analog synths of Don Slepian’s “Awakening.” Even the lesser entries on I Am the Center testify to the admirably enterprising spirit of idiosyncratic artists who value self-expression above commercial potential. Now where did I leave my mantra?

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate