Günter Schlienz-Know Your New Age (CD Zoharum)
What is new age music? This is a question I’ve always had a hard time answering. Some say Vangelis is new age, but his music has always hit home for me. Yanni is another new-age artist but some of his music slaps. Other people say it’s when electronic and Eastern styles merge. Honestly, like all music when the music works genres don’t really apply. When the music slightly misfires, then classification become more important. “You don’t really understand it” is something I’ve been told when I didn’t like something. And maybe they were right. Maybe I didn’t get, but I still knew I didn’t like it.
All of this doesn’t really have much to do with Günter Schlienz’ third album ‘Know Your New Age’, other than these thoughts were in my head as I was listening to it. Throughout Schlienz uses modular synths with acoustic guitars and field recordings to takes you on a journey through imaginary universes. When it works the music is sublime. The standout track is ‘The Prophet (Part Three)’. Unlike the other tracks it features an acoustic guitar. This gives the music an extra tone and makes you snap out of the reverie the previous 47-minutes has created. There is a section where we hear the sounds of children playing. It comes from nowhere and made me pause to make sure everything was alright with my daughter and the kids outside. When I realised, they were ok I went back to cooking.
The main problem with ‘Know Your New Age’ is that it can’t really be wrong. This is one person’s idea of what meditative music should be. And on one hand it works. The music gently undulates along. Taking its time to make its point and get to its obvious conclusion. And there is nothing wrong with ‘Know Your New Age’. Overall, it is a pleasant enough listen, but it could do more. The whole mood is one of tranquillity and peace. Which is sort of implied by the title. However, compositions don’t really do anything. They open with one, or two, ideas and that’s it. Which is a shame. It would have been good to see Schlienz really push the boundaries of this kind of drone music. Yes, some of the melodies are killer, and the subtle tones in ‘Lamb (Part One)’ are great, but there are moments when you just zone out. Arguably this might be what Schlienz had in mind, but during the album I responded to emails I should have dealt with earlier, organised some files on my computer and read some notes from work.
If you are into new age music or not there is plenty to enjoy here, but don’t be surprised if you start to zone out somewhere around the third track. ‘Know Your New Age’ isn’t a bad album, far from it, but it isn’t a great album. And this, weirdly, diminishes the enjoyment. NR