Not everyone who listens to new age music is actually into the new age culture. There are people who will listen to Suzanne Ciani or Enya (just to give two examples) but have never used crystals or any other stereotypical items associated with new age practices -- they don't read new age publications, and they don't visit new age specialty stores. For such listeners, new age isn't a culture or a lifestyle; it's strictly a genre of music that helps them unwind, chill out, decompress, or relax. And quite often, listeners who seek tranquillity for the sake of tranquillity will tell you that a soothing, calm ambiance is all they need -- they aren't looking to be challenged. Nonetheless, it's important to understand that the new age genre has become increasingly diverse over the years and that some new age discs are, in fact, challenging. Jim Pietkivitch's Inner Worlds isn't as ambitious as some new age releases, but it isn't an exercise in total mindlessness, either. This mostly instrumental CD has its share of thoughtful twists and turns thanks to Pietkivitch, who keeps things fairly interesting by incorporating elements of European classical, jazz, and even progressive rock on occasion -- and he accomplishes this with very little help from anyone else. Colleague Melanie Lunsford contributes flute playing on "Skyward" and wordless background vocals on "Peaceful Valley," but most of the time, Pietkivitch (who composed all of the material) uses his synthesizers and programming to act as a one-man band. While Pietkivitch never becomes aggressive -- this is new age, after all -- he does demonstrate that an artist can maintain a peaceful mood without being ultra-predictable. Inner Worlds falls short of remarkable, but all things considered, it is among the more noteworthy new age releases of early 2004.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson