Informed by minimalism and the newly minted concept of ambient, one of the most fascinating and head tilting aspects of the history of electronic music is the endlessly vast catalog of what could simply be classified as New Age Music.
A vague but meaningful genre born at the crossroads of synthesis, home recording and post-hippie spirituality, New Age became a blanket term for a grooveless music whose intent was transcendence.
Mood music for meditative states (which is actually timeless and arguably the root of ALL music) was becoming a “thing.” New Age artists found homes in major label specialty imprints like Windham Hill and Higher Octave or did it on their own like American Gramaphone.
Regardless, because of a high kook factor, sadly the end result was a much maligned and misunderstood genre.
An enigmatic musician who has played everything from pop to prog rock to free jazz and everything in between, multi-instrumentalist Ariel Kalma‘s work is for the most part unknown, as he produced and released most of it via his own private press Astral Muse imprint throughout the 70s.
Kalma’s work defies definition as it is rooted in and has hints of world and jazz, but it actually is mostly meditative music.
These ambient excursions, largely tape loop, feedback and echo experiments feature Kalma employing circular breathing while playing wind instruments or layering strings and chanting.
The tirelessly adventurous RVNG imprint has sought out Kalma and asked him to compile essential works and rarities for their recently released “retrospective” lovingly titled, …An Evolutionary Music.
The 17-track collection distills a particularly fruitful 7 year period from 1972 to ’79 and reveals a spectrum of sound and experience that clearly pushes at the edges of genre and creates something new and illogical.
This is intentional music, very thoughtfully made to transcend the mind, very physically made to transcend the body.
In a lovely new short documentary released today, filmmaker Matthew McGuigan, the visual luminary behind Hospital Hill, gives us a glimpse into the Kalma’s present day life in the beautiful back country of Australia, in the artist’s own words.