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.