Music from the Hearts of Space is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. They launched their nationally distributed show in 1983 although it originated 10 years earlier from the studios of KPFA in Berkeley, California. To commemorate the anniversary, they’ve put out a CD with the music from their initial syndicated show called No. 1First Flight. As Echoes goes back to our own first week of broadcasts to celebrate our 19th anniversary this Friday, it’s remarkable how well the music holds up, but more on us later.
Judging from First Flight, hosts Stephen Hill and his original partner, Anna Turner, who died in 1996, proved from the start to have highly refined tastes as the original connoisseurs of the drone zone. Although frequently branded as a “new age” show, HOS rarely plays material like Music for Meditation, Reiki Healing or Music for Yoga, except, perhaps, for Tony Scott’s ground breaking Music for Zen Meditation. In fact, they never even played much “space” music. In over 25 years and over 850 shows, they’ve only played Tangerine Dream in 13 programs. That said, the collection includes a space music classic from Michael Stearns, his surprisingly undated Planetary Unfolding, a composition of slowly evolving electronic textures and subliminal melodies. But mostly, HOS looked far afield for what they often refer to as contemplative music. David Darling‘s “Cycle Song” from the jazz inclined ECM records is as refreshing in its chamber jazz stylings now as it was in 1982. While the recordings of the original 1983 broadcast have been remastered from CD, a real find is jazz reed player Charles Lloyd‘s “Pathless Path.” The faint scratches and surface noise from this still vinyl-only 1979 release bring back those days of strange intersections when Lloyd was in an overtly spiritual phase creating his world jazz exotica. While most of the music here ascends to the timeless, Kitaro‘s “Free Flight” from Tunhuang sounds very much of its time and a little sappy, though I still remember how thrilling and exotic his CDs appeared in the late 70s and early 80s when they were only hard-to-find and expensive Japanese imports. Deuter‘s “Haleakala Mystery,” on the other hand, recalls how deep Deuter could go back in the seventies, something he’s rarely done since.
A lot of people think we are Hearts of Space while others think we must be fierce competitors. We aren’t and we are. While HOS and Echoes sometimes fight for airtime on radio stations, Stephen Hill was actually a supporter on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting panel that provided the money to launch Echoes. He probably thought anyone foolish enough to produce 10 hours of radio versus his one hour, had to get some aid. Stephen and his wife and partner, Leyla, have proven to be a mentors and friends over the years and we’ve shared our homes, meals and scuba vacations together.
Most of all, we’ve shared a passion for new music that pushes the envelope and expresses a spirit beyond this world. So happy 25th to Music from the Hearts of Space, still in orbit after all these years.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))
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