Image My introduction to “New Age” music came while I was in college, in the mid-1980s.  The dormitory I lived in was far noisier than what I was used to, and I was having a lot of trouble sleeping. A friend suggested I try to play some soothing music as a kind of ‘white noise’ to mask the normal noises of several hundred young adults living in a relatively small area. I thought it was worth a try and he lent me Kitaro’s Ki album as a test. I thought the music I was hearing was a gift from the Divine, it was so exquisitely crafted and harmonically mesmerizing. For the next several years, my interest in this kind of synthesized music was limited only by my lean student budget. So when I was asked to review Emily Simko’s Excursions I was excited at the opportunity to see how this style of music has changed through new technologies and new artistic visions. Simko was trained as a classical pianist from a very young age, and raised in a family focused upon music (her father was a professional violinist and her mother was passionately devoted to him and his career). The tragedy of her father’s death at the age of ten seemed to bring all of her musical aspirations to an end, but was merely the beginning of a long period of quiet for her.  Nearly two decades after she gave up music, Simko found that she had a deep desire to play the piano. Her technique was rusty, but she played with a passion she had never before experienced. She writes: "The very emotions and feeling I had so cleverly kept hidden from myself for so many years were now overflowing from my fingertips and spilling out onto the keys, compelling me to express them in melody and in song."   The discovery of synthesizers took her in new directions and created a free environment in which to explore ethereal ‘sound palettes’.   Simko believes that all instruments are created to mirror the consciousness of those who play upon them.  For her, music captures "our inter-dimensional connection to the rhythmic motion of time and space, and to our own divine essence." In this way, she expresses the philosophy of 1980's new age musicians, such as Triatma, Ray Lynch's and Kitaro.  Simko's original compositions were crafted as aural explorations into altered and elevated states of consciousness; her aim "as a musician and composer is to reconnect listeners to the mystical circuitry within from which magic flows." Deeply and continually influenced by Dr. Jose Arguelles' universal principles of movement and measure in her own music, the track "Inside the Mystic Column" on Excursions is one example of this philosophy expressed in sound.  Excursions is Ms. Simko’s second album (the first, Earth Project: Music debuted in 1995 on her own label, Monadnock Medicine Records). She explains, "The intent behind this album is best communicated through its musical content. The orchestral string arrangements were inspired from the memories of my father's rosewood violin calling me into the dreamtime, and I've often stopped to wonder if the string submelodies could be somehow his; as if he was communicating them through me. The ambient space sounds are inspired from the journeys I've taken into the vastness of my own inner landscape, to a time and a space that lies beyond."  According to the liner notes, Excursions was created from the resonant frequencies of a waking dream. It should be a deeply moving orchestral space fantasy for drifting off and reflection. I found it to be pleasant background music with a fine balance between her classical piano training and synthetic rhythms. I believe many readers will enjoy this album as a relaxation aid and meditative guide into the Self. One last note, as a sleeping aid Kitaro worked beautifully, perhaps too well. I still get sleepy when I listen to it. ~review by Lisa Mc SherryArtist: Emily SimkoMonadnock Medicine Records, 2000.
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