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Michael Stearns: WITHIN: The nine dimensions

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

I don't know how I let this one get away for so long. This gem of an album by spacemusic veteran Michael Stearns has been offered by Backroads Music and others for three years now, and somehow I never bought it. That means that I haven't gotten to enjoy it until 2001! Well, I finally have it and what an album it is – spacemusic at its richest.

The original music was composed by Stearns for a "channeled" workshop by mystical author Barbara Hand Clow, but since I have no idea what the workshop was like, I just appreciate the music for what it is. There are nine pieces, each supposed to correspond to a "dimension," plus a final recapitulation and summing-up piece. Stearns uses not only his array of synthesizers, but a wide variety of percussion, toned bells, and sampled human voices, including Gregorian chants, African tribal songs, and Islamic recitations. There are also sounds of whales and other animals. Each one of the nine pieces has quite a different mood, from driving rhythms (track 1, "Double Helix") to spooky and dark (track 2, "To the Center," or track 7, "Telluric Realms") to exalted and reverent (track 3, "Seven") to hymnlike melody (track 6, "Longing.") The Nine Dimensions ranges from awed whispering to a shimmering wall of sound, one of Stearns' trademarks. No one does the Big Space Sound better than Michael Stearns.

The album cover and liners feature lots of whirling psychedelic fractal computer art, appropriate for an album concept which harks back to the inner explorations of the '60s but uses the sound-technology of the '00's. Some things never go out of style. Even if you have no Inner Contacts with Pleiadean Masters, this album is full of sound that will transport you into an imaginal adventure. So don't wait as long as I did, and listen now.

Record Label: Earth Turtle Music

Style: Ambient


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