If you’re one of those people who wouldn’t be caught dead listening to new age music, I may have some bad news for you. It just so happens that, in 1989, a scientist working in the psychology department at Plymouth State College in New Hampshire conducted research on people who had undergone near-death experiences. The research seemed to conclude that the musical stylings of the pioneering new age musician Iasos (pronounced “ya’ sos”) scored the highest ratings in a survey of various types of music reported being heard by those who have undergone a near-death experience—most notably Iasos’ piece entitled “The Angels of Comfort.”
So, it might just be that new age music is the ONLY kind of music you’ll be caught dead listening to. Death metal can’t really hold a candle to actual death music, can it?
But then again, if you’ve heard “The Angels of Comfort,” you might conclude that you could very easily duplicate the same results in a survey of people who huff paint on a regular basis. I’m not necessarily suggesting that the heavenly music corporation producing these angelic choirs on high are the result of a lack of oxygen to the brain as vital organs shut down during the near-death experience, but it’s certainly a distinct possibility. For all I know, Iasos’ electronic noodlings sound the closest to an EKG machine or a ventilator. In any event, Iasos may or may not be on to something otherworldly.
Although many would credit Mike Oldfield’s 1973 masterpiece Tubular Bells as the seed that started the popularization of ambient sound, it lacked a genre in which it could be placed. Most just labeled that album as “progressive rock,” for want of a better term. The ambient music that would come to be known as “new age” certainly owed a debt to Oldfield as well as the experimental works of Edgar Froese, Tangerine Dream, Can, Klaus Schulze, and various other musical visionaries. But the phrase “new age” had yet to be coined in 1973. That would take another two years.
Iasos was a major pioneer in the creation of the musical genre of new age. He was born in Greece but moved to America at an early age, migrating to the West Coast in the late ‘60s for the sole purpose of pursuing his musical vision. In 1975 he released his first album, Inter-Dimensional Music. It’s the kind of music to play while riding astrally projected elevators through the space-time continuum.
1975 was a heady year for “new age” culture; it is often cited as the year that the genre was created and the phrase was coined. That was also the year that Steven Halpern released his seminal and highly influential album Spectrum Suite. Even more important to some is the fact that 1975 was the year that Brian Eno released his first fully ambient record Discreet Music, setting in motion decades of ambient recordings from the famed musician, producer, and all-around genius.
That’s right, kids. Eno’s Discreet Music is 40 years old now. And that’s how long Iasos—who should, by rights, be counted alongside those previously mentioned visionaries—has been churning out his own brand of new age and ambient sound. By my calculations, Iasos is approximately 68 years old. So, he’s still producing new age well into his old age. And he shows no signs of slowing down. His multilayered ambient droning drones as hard today as it did in 1975.
Ambient Bandstand audiences rate Iasos: “Its got no discernible beat, and it’s easy to trance to.”
Iasos claims that he composes in collaboration with an inter-dimensional being that he calls “Vista.” According to Iasos, Vista is the true visionary and architect behind these complex soundscapes and compositions. Iasos merely serves as the conduit through which Vista operates and opens new windows on the musical world.
Thank Vista, Iasos has recently posted an incredibly trippy, short documentary to YouTube that was filmed in 1979 (four years after releasing his first album), and it shows him at the height of his creative genius. The documentary, which you can watch below, oscillates between Iasos talking about his musical approach and general philosophy and various musical performances. The documentary appears to show a truly bliss-filled musician talking about receiving the radio signals in his head from his “collaborator.” He also speaks of a feminine counterpart to Vista that he calls “Crystal.”
According to Iasos, higher beings are interacting with humans to create a greater harmony, a paradise of music on earth. However, these higher beings practice a policy of non-interference and must be invited in. The more people who interact with these higher beings, the faster a paradise on earth will be formed. Convinced?
Pay attention to the fact that in this documentary, Iasos seems to laugh at less-than-appropriate times, like Dr. Julius Hibbert on The Simpsons. It’s also fascinating to see his home studio comprised of state-of-the-art analog equipment… for 1979. Marvel at his incredibly spiritual framing of electronic sounds: “Electrons are pure God beings and are very sensitive to God control.” He’s clearly operating on a much higher plane than the rest of us.
h/t Iasos’ website