Prolific 'new age' artist Yanni releases album fit for world's most interesting elevator

We live in a world full of political maelstroms (heads up — the Iowa caucuses are Feb. 1). Our time is characterized by social injustices that uncover racial prejudice, environmental degradation on a scale humanity’s never seen before and cultural shifts that have upended “normal” behaviors for better and for worse.

These are problems that confront us collectively, but we’ve all got smaller individual tribulations that trip us up, like maybe leaving the oven on and possibly not paying the renter’s insurance this month.

Freud wrote that we seek refuge in the illusions of good art in order to escape civilization’s discontents. And if Freud said it, it must be true.

Every once in a while, it’s nice to hear an album that escapes the everyday and seems to address our spirituality. Sometimes, albums steal us away from our current problems and transcend us to another plane of existence.

Yanni’s hilariously titled album,“Sensuous Chill,” was released on Jan. 29 to some fanfare, considering he is “The Most Interesting Musician In The World,” according to his own website — and, I’m sure, his mom.

While he shunned the label of “new age” in the below embedded NPR interview on Weekend Edition, his music has been used in the name of new age for a while now.

I don’t know why he would reject that label, because it seems to fit him really well. Listening to this music is like listening to elevator music in the world’s most interesting elevator. When I submerged my consciousness into this music, it felt like a warm bath in an elevator's soft lighting.

The title track, which has no lyrics, made me feel like I could just let my mind wander, or not, for the nearly four minutes it stretched over. It had a beat that engaged my mind, but the wavering synths and the non-committal piano barred me from escaping back into dangerous territory, territory I’d call “conscious thought” and “active participation in my environment.”

“Dance for Me” was another that caught my attention as I was listening, because it seemed to come from all over the globe. It wasn’t like the artist had sampled something and transitioned to another style, it was as though he had done what no other artist had done thus far: unite all countries in a “World Without Borders.”

Yanni was also the subject of a 2014 TV movie titled “Yanni: World Without Borders.”

The 16-track album has a few songs with lyrics, sung by a breathless woman I imagine wearing a long flowing dress that waved in the wind as she stood on some far-off precipice in an exotic location, like the roof of a yoga studio in Santa Barbara, California.

I'd say that this album — while it doesn't challenge how I think or even what I'm thinking about — still does its job. You couldn't ask for a better produced and more totally global experience when listening to new-age music than Yanni.


Tell the reporter what else he should listen to this semester at pnorthfe@asu.edu or follow @peternorthfelt on Twitter.

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