In their absolute unpredictability, Numero surprise us yet again. Celestial Soul Portrait, by California-based electronic, ambient, and new age music pioneer Iasos, compiles early and rare recordings by this authentic "outsider" who released his debut album in 1975 -- the same year as Brian Eno's Discreet Music and new age icon Steven Halpern's first record, Christening for Listening - A Soundtrack for Every Body. Iasos is a formally trained flutist and self-taught multi-instrumentalist -- guitars, wind instruments, you name it. More importantly, long before recording, he was early to experiment with phase shifters and Echoplexes on acoustic instruments, four-track tape recorders, feedback, loops, pitch-shifting, varying tape speeds, and early analog synth technologies such as the RMI Keyboard Computer and the ARP Pro/DGX -- the latter he has continued to use for four decades in concerts. Iasos' early music, which he calls "Paradise Music" or "Inter-Dimensional Music" (the latter is the title of his first album and the name of his record label), is serene, spacy, and blissful to be sure, and does contain those elements that mark new age music, but there isn't anything tepid about it. It's strange, organic-sounding, yet also otherworldly. Check "The Angels of Comfort." Its unedited version is over 30 minutes (it's 11 here) and was the front side of his Angelic Music album. The whispering synth chords are restrained yet they never stop moving; they seem to change tone, color, texture, all the while remaining in repose. Developmental and musical psychologist Dr. Joel D. Funk has used this track in his research with those who've undergone near-death experiences. They universally selected this track as the one that most resembled their adventures of being in between this world and the next. "Procession on the Horizon," with its trippy ARP lines, shimmering chords, and lithe cosmic melodies all entwined effortlessly, was inspired by Iasos' hearing of Jimi Hendrix's "Drifting." Closer "Crystal*White*Fire*Light," with its use of wiggy steel guitar, flute, and synths simulating organs, as well as unidentifiable electronic sounds, sends Celestial Soul Portrait out on a truly ecstatic note. While it's true these sounds might not resonate with everybody, anyone at all interested in early ambient and homemade production techniques -- as well as calming, sincere music -- should take note. Kudos to Numero for another revelation.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek