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Iasos - Celestial Soul Portrait [Numero Group ý - 2013]

Iasos provides sublime celestial sound, drifting and peaceful as the clouds, which was some of the original soundscape music in the 70's and early 80's.  "Angelic" is a good adjective, however contrived it may sound in today's new age saturated culture.  His sounds are transparent and crystalline, beautifully balanced in a vibrant prismatic spectrum.  This new release "Celestial Soul Portrait" is a compilation of notable previously released tracks from his most known albums (a 'best of'), in some cases presented in shortened (but still relatively lengthy) form.

While I tend to prefer the epic original takes of the songs, I could not say a negative word against this beautifully laid out and listenable compilation, which attempts the herculean task of distilling years and years of very consistent output into a single disk and succeeds as well as anyone could.  Indeed, there is a greater density of genius ideas here than on any of Iasos' individual albums, but then Iasos' music was never about density.

There is a purity and peace, a divine simplicity to his music that is rarely heard.  Iasos' sound constantly resonates with color and human love, and thoroughly avoids the cold detachment employed by others at the time, such as Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream.  This is due, at least in part, to the fact that the synthesizer is used but it is not Iasos' primary or sole instrument.  Afterall, Iasos' first record "Inter-Dimensional Music" was actually a more composed style similar to jazz fusion, employing heavy use of flutes, pianos and choral vocals.  Remnants of that sound and instrumentation show on the material included here, in watery echoes of piano and the occasional flute solo.

As Iasos' jazz influenced material was never his most recognized, none of it is included on this compilation.  This is probably best, as the album forms a more coherent ambient experience due to the inclusion of nothing but soundscapes.  However, I would certainly like to see a proper re-release of "Inter-Dimensional Music", as it is very difficult to find.

If one is open to it, one can experience a true godlike presence through his album, or any of Iasos' recordings.  Pure contentment resounds from every pore, it is like a breath of fresh air.  I can't recommend Iasos enough.  This compilation seems perfectly suited to those who enjoy the sounds of ambient music, but haven't the time or attention span for long pieces.  However, as someone who loves the longer versions, I still feel "Celestial Soul Portrait" stands up wonderfully as an alternative listening experience to his classic albums, and I've fallen asleep to it many times with happy visions in my head.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Josh Landry
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