Music: New Age Comes of Age

Dreamy soundscapes offer relief from formula pop and rock

It has been called "aural wallpaper," "music for the Birkenstock crowd" and "yuppie elevator music." Its titles evoke a holistic, hot-tubbing world: Etosha -- Private Music in the Land of Dry Water, Aerial Boundaries, Nirvana Road. Although its composers include musicians prominent in the rock avant- garde, it is marked by a meditative aesthetic whose goal is often creative anonymity. A laid-back synthesis of folk, jazz and classical influences, it is called, by rough convention, New Age music. But what exactly is it?

"New Age music is the sound track for the movie of the mind," says English-born Rocker Eddie Jobson,...

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