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New age music lives on as long as our need to disengage does



Eli Zeger has written an article called “New age music lives on as long as our need to disengage does”. It is a fascinating read, and the article has so far over 120 comments.

Here’s the intro:

Pictured in the liner notes for Brian Eno’s 1985 ambient piece Thursday Afternoon is a lined paper that scrupulously diagrams the song structure. The page shows a series of rows of timelines, each one surrounded by Eno’s penciled-in notes, chronicling the flow of the self-titled and sole song on this album: “Hints of shimmer” it reads in the second row of Eno’s notes; “increasing density” it reads in the fourth. Although this isn’t traditional sheet music (Eno, in his unorthodoxy, didn’t even know how to read sheet music), these instructions helped prepare such a graceful-sounding installation of ambient music—and it all may seem like a lot for an hour-long drone on a G note.

Thursday Afternoon may have a calming effect, but its artistic message isn’t straightforward: The combination of familiarity (the title is a day of the week, a time of day) and avant-garde, minimalist artwork (a smattering of aquatically colored shapes painted by artist Tom Phillips) renders it nebulous. This is ambient music concerned with neither commercial appeal nor bearing an obvious artistic message. Conversely, around the time of Eno’s piece, and during the next few years, the genre of ambient split off into a much more straight-ahead distillation easier for the mainstream to grasp, something perfect for the burgeoning “adult contemporary” market. Enter the commodified ohm of new-age music, which began to garner confounding, unpredictable success in the mid to late ’80s.

Read it on AVclub.com Highly recommended!