Flogging A Dead Genre? Resuscitating New Age

From the 2011 EMP Pop Conference panel abstract

New Age, the musical genre, is generally dismissed as tacky, dull, and even dangerously stupid. Fair enough, but according to a small coterie of serious record collectors and underground musicians, it’s also extremely misunderstood and increasingly crucial in a world gone mad. I’ll discuss my personal discovery of New Age’s virtues and my encounters with its leading figures, and present a revisionist account of the genre’s rarely-considered connections to the larger musical continuum.

Topics include New Age’s countercultural, DIY roots — self-publishing, alternative distribution, the role of the cassette format, and the issues of semantics and framing in understanding the genre. I’ll address New Age’s digital, mass-market downfall and its recent renaissance, and my own attempts as a label owner to get people to take another listen. I’ll present music, cover art, and other ephemera that clearly communicate the recent excitement surrounding this discredited genre.

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