Despite my long record of impeccable taste in music I will now admit to have fallen prey to the so-called “New Age Movement” in the 80s. That’s right: your humble narrator was into crystals, Tarot cards and the idea that we were all (back then) on the cusp of a new Age of Aquarius.
Sure, I still enjoy a nice trip to Nowhere with a soundtrack by Jonn Serrie or Brian Eno; but, for the most part, my dusty Windham Hill CDs are just taking up space*.
In the 1990’s new age music mutated into the more generic relaxation. This insidious marketing ploy was particularly prevalent in Australia. Fans of quality ambient were no doubt aghast as, via post offices and bookshops, the market was flooded with extremely suspect nature-themed recordings. These recordings sold very well and made some very mediocre musicians lots of money. Tourists loved it, too, with the slickly packaged images of Australia’s natural heritage proving very attractive. But far from Eno’s vision of ambient, this music was not “simultaneously relaxing and engaging”. Most of it was just plain awful. Perhaps knowing this fact all along, many of the perpetrators simply took the money and ran as the music’s popularity inevitably waned. Others survived by flogging their wares overseas.