In order for art to develop, artists have to create something totally new and different. It might not be recognized as revolutionary at first, but suddenly everyone sees that this one piece of art was a defining breakthrough. In the history of New Age music Steven Halpern’s Spectrum Suite (1975) is such a release.
Listening to Spectrum Suite today, when high numbers of meditation albums are released each month, it is hard to understand just how unique this album was back in 1975. In a recent newsletter Steven told the following story:
Back in the day, in the early years of taking my work public, (1975-1978), I was the first–and often only–musician to come out of ‘the metaphysical closet’, as it were. My debut album was, as far as I’m aware, unique in that it openly referenced meditation, chakras and researching involving music and subtle energy medicine.
Colors and Chakras
Spectrum Suite is not the first New Age music album (T. Scott: Music for Zen Meditation, P. Horn: Inside and M. Oldfield: Tubular Bells were already released), but Steven Halpern almost singlehandedly lay the foundation for the genre that was to be known as New Age music. The mentioned release – from Scott to Oldfield – are all highly experimental, while Halpern’s album is the finished product.
It is impossible not to be amazed by the range of colors Halpern is producing; the whole spectrum is represented. You almost don’t have to look at the titles to know which color the given song is about. Spectrum Suite is also a landmark album as a healing music release. Each song and color represent a chakra, making it into a complete meditation album.
Halpern must also be credited for seeing the potential in the Rhodes electric piano for use in New Age music. Its warm and rich sound is perfect for this musical expression. Here we also get to hear Iasos play electric flute.
There are different versions available, but they all contain the important A- and B-sides. My favorite colors are Red – keynote C (track 1) and the Violet – keynote B (track 7). The melodies all have a remarkable flow. There’s nothing constructed here; each melody has its own soul and atmosphere.
I must not forget to mention the album’s absolutely gorgeous cover(s). Also here there are different versions, as seen above. My favorite is where the spacey keyboard keys are glowing with colors, far above a blue earth. I’m sure this was Halpern’s vision as he created this one-of-a-kind album.
It is often hard to see the significance of quiet, gentle music. It doesn’t scream at you and instruct you what to feel. It’s just there, quietly telling its story. Only when you take your time, close your eyes, breath slowly and tune into its frequency, you’ll be able to appreciate its beauty and significance. Spectrum Suite by Steven Halpern is a magnificent album, an album that will stand the test of time.
In other words; It is the original.
Score: 100/100 – See how I rate music here
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