New Age Essentials

New Age Essentials

The rise of new age goes hand in hand with that of the mindfulness and wellness movements. Their history begins in the ’70s, when hippies, retreating from the social turmoil of the era, started exploring Eastern spirituality and the healing arts (massage, Reiki, crystal work). Providing the soundtracks for their inward journeys were early new-age artists like Deuter, Kitaro, and George Winston. They fused a stunning array of styles: folk, ambient music, classical, indigenous traditions. Even when new age achieved commercial success in the ’90s, its artists never relinquished this radical diversity. While the Windham Hill catalogue is rich in jazz-inflected instrumentals, Enya crafts otherworldly pop infused with Celtic music and Enigma mash up Gregorian chant with electronics. Because it cuts across so many stylistic boundaries, perhaps new age is best understood as a sensibility, one centered on the philosophy of music as calming therapy.

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