Music Of The Near-Death Experience


Celestial Soul Portrait by Iasos

In 1978, the Developmental Psychology department at Plymouth State University performed a series of studies on 60 patients who had survived near-death experiences. The goal, Professor Joel D. Funk has said, was to determine which piece of music best resembled what was occurring in people's heads in the moments when they thought they were going to die.  

For his experiment, Funk played a series of recordings and found that the most consistent piece chosen by his subjects was "The Angels of Comfort" by Iasos, an artist who was a pivotal figure in the development of new age music.

It was arguably an appropriate discovery, for Iasos was a product of a near-death experience.  Born in Greece in 1947, his father was a holocaust-survivor; a victim of unbelievable terror at Auschwitz. 

An accomplished musician, Iasos moved to San Francisco and became both blessed and cursed with a colorful creativity that manifested itself as an amazing, never-heard-before music, which occurred only in his head.  In a sensation he described as "wearing headphones but without the headphones," the "radio" inside his young mind was playing what Iasos described as "paradise music."

What's paradise music? According to Iasos, it was "heavenly music that exists on higher dimensions...paradise is a frequency range.  Boredom is low frequency.  Hatred is very low frequency.  Love is a nice, high frequency.  Paradise is a super-high frequency."

Released in 2013 by Numero Group, Celestial Soul Portrait is a 13-track compilation of Iasos's "super-high frequency" paradise music.  It's as beautiful and breathtaking as it is listless and unfocused. Listeners with narrower definitions of "good music" will probably think it's pretentious—and they may be right.  But if you have any "new age" in your musical palette—or even the slightest issue falling asleep at night—this collection is almost essential listening.



Ambient 1: Music For Airports by Brian Eno

There's a man named Keyth who lives and works in my neighborhood.  He isn't a friend, relative or even an acquaintance.  I know Keyth because he set up a security system in my parent's house.  You see, Keyth is a locksmith and I find that mildly funny because his name is practically made for his occupation.  It's like, if my name was Joe and I made coffee for a living.  

What does this have to do with anything? 

Brian Eno's 1978 album Ambient 1: Music For Airports is the musical equivalent of my Keyth story.  There has probably never been an album whose title indicates exactly what the music is meant for.  But Music For Airports is literally that.  There's nothing ambiguous about it, because it is played 24/7 at the Marine Air Terminal at Laguardia airport in New York.  I think that might mean that Music For Airports is the most played album in all of New York City—or certainly all of Queens! 

Rumor has it Brian Eno came up with this concept while—get this!—sitting at the terminal of an airport.  He wanted to create an album that could alleviate the anxiety commonly associated with flying.  It certainly helps.  The music, which is made up of mostly pianos and synthesizers is so deceptively simple that you'd think there'd be millions upon millions of albums like this.  There could be, but I don't know of any.  Even when you're not in the airport, the album makes you see calming images of planes and clouds, bringing you into a heavenly sort of apathy.  It's fantastic music to sleep to and I put it on often.

P.S. You can often hear pieces from Music For Airports on NPR's This American Life.

Ambient 1: Music For Airports by Brian Eno:



Stars Of The Lid And The Refinement Of The Decline

The quietest of the quiet.  The softest soft.  Music, which can only be enjoyed as ambience—ambience of a dreamless sleep.  Sounds, which can only imply; which exist in a rare place between white noise and music.  Impossible to analyze, yet impossible not to feel something.  A trip, a thought or both.  Music to write to.  Music to think to.  Music to love to. Formless.  Perfect for a movie.  Almost nothing but absolutely something.  


A Triple LP or Double CD called:

Stars Of The Lid And The Refinement Of The Decline