Various Artists: (The Microcosm), Visionary Music of Continental Europe 1970-1986 (LITA/Southbound)

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Le Sourire Vole/The Stolen Smile, by Ash Ra Temple (1976)
Various Artists: (The Microcosm), Visionary Music of Continental Europe 1970-1986 (LITA/Southbound)

In a neat sidestep of other descriptions like perhaps proto-electronica, ambient, cosmic, New Age or Krautrock, the compiler of this excellent double disc – Doug McGowan out of Los Angeles – simply goes for “visionary”.

And that's apt.

Among the 16 artists/groups across these two-plus hours are Ash Ra Temple, Popul Vuh, Peter Michael Hamel, Roedelius, Deuter, Gigi Masin and the often maligned Vangelis whose early sound was often closer to the tripped out than the famous Chariots of Fire soundtrack he is widely known for. (He also did the Bladerunner soundtrack which might be a better point of reference if he's new to you.)

These astrally-directed instrumentals are predominantly synth-based and a considerable number of these European artists had classical music in their backgrounds, so here you get widescreen, frequently relaxing and always morphing pieces with sometimes allusions of Bach and choral music alongside very discreet hints of world music.

In the very useful liner notes (artists interviewed, music contextualised in time and place) many of the performers make a clear distinction between psychedelic or New Age music and what it was they were aiming for: cosmic, human connection, esoteric, meditative, experimental sounds . . .

Rather visionary in fact.

An excellent introduction to this fascinating genre and these artists.



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