Various Artists

Letting the World Go By: A Vacation for Mind & Soul

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The best new age labels promote not only music that is melodically pleasing, but also can be encouraged as part of a spiritual lifestyle. It's perhaps a bit pretentious for Real Music to speak of this captivating sampler of its roster as "carefully selected to help you discover and strengthen your true essence, your Real self," but there is some truth to its track-to-track abilities to relax any tensions. The 11 tracks are divided between the elegant piano seductions of Bernward Koch, the gentle acoustic guitar of Govi, Karunesh's dramatic soundscapes, the soft ivory hearts of Danny Wright and Kevin Kern, and the mystical sweeping atmospheres of 2002. Cynics like to call new age music aural wallpaper, but in some ways, that's a good thing. One can't always be frantic and dancing. The tracks here seem designed to inspire rest and relaxation -- to lull to sleep -- so even that criticism is defeated. It's a beautiful spiritual collection that knows its purpose and isn't shy about declaring it. Plus, it's a great way to plug into Real Music's roster, which features genre performers who deserve more attention than they usually get.

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