Isles Beyond (Inner Islands)
While new age music’s cred took a beating in the 80’s and beyond as big labels and relaxation muzak took over, underground new age is alive and well in the 21st century thanks to talents like Sean Conrad and his California-based Inner Islands label. Under his Channelers alias he’s made another beautiful collection of meditative music. This one is based around improvised piano and hammer dulcimer melodies with a little support from flute and subtle backdrops of droning keyboards. I’ve made comparisons before with Popol Vuh/Florian Fricke’s quietest acoustic music and I’ll make it again; the pauses and spontaneity and rough edges, the folksy glow, the cosmic sense of wonder. Isles Beyond is music from another place that sounds as human as any music from this mortal plane.