The Healing Heart
New Age music gets a lot of shit – and never seems to get reviewed in the mainstream, for it’s seen as Not Music I guess. Well, I’ve always had an ear on some new age – and particularly in the ambient space, not just Eno and Enya, mind. I’ve owned plenty of New Age CDs from acts not known in the mainstream (Andy Holm, for example). And it’s been my form of meditation – which indeed is part of its charm and practical application, a soundtrack for contemplation.
Well, Diane Arkenstone, a multi-instrumentalist who has moved through many genres, is known now for her ambient music. In fact – some 20 years ago – I remember her as one half of the Celtic Chill-styled ambient/new-wave duo, Enaid & Einalem. And some of her own music hasn’t moved too far from that template.
It would be easy to dismiss this, if you see no need for music that accompanies the drift to sleep, the quiet contemplation moments at end or start of day. But if you’re at all attuned to minimalist, ambient, classical or instrumental music that is largely beatless then you’ll find plenty to love about this album in particular.
It’s not often that a quiet and soothing record maintains an air of upliftment about it – and that’s where The Healing Heart really triumphs. There are tracks (Bathed In Light, Safe In The Angel’s Wing) where a soft choir of voices accompanies the synth-scaped musical score. Vocal-less and calmly caressing.
For the most part you are in the bed of synths – and if you think you hear an unpicking of the melody from Madonna’s Like A Prayer, newly re-stitched in a big drape of a Celtic cloak (Peace In Stillness) you might not be wrong. But it’s hard to deny the effect – and even if it’s hard to sometimes get past the affect too.
In fact I don’t want to get past it.
The point is to bathe in it.
And it might not have the hipster credentials of the latest effort by William Basinski. But there’s this idea of time being frozen that seems to accompany the music here. And I’m happy sitting with it. Sitting in it. And maybe that motif of being/feeling frozen is as ‘cool’ as this music will ever get. And that’s okay too.