In Asian countries, the hypnotic, haunting music that accompanies Buddhist activities has been around for centuries. Buddhist music (Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and otherwise) existed long before the advent of recording technology, and it continues to evolve in the 21st century. One of the CDs that puts a modern spin on Buddhist music is Gerald Jay Markoe's instrumental Zen Meditations. Markoe isn't from an Asian country -- he was born and raised in the U.S. -- and this album isn't Asian music in the traditional sense. Markoe is considered a new age/ambient artist, although Zen Meditations is heavily influenced by the traditional Buddhist music of Asian countries. The album has a Buddhist theme (specifically, Zen Buddhism), and Markoe employs traditional Asian instruments (bells, gongs, Tibetan bowls, bamboo flutes) as well as synthesizers. The adjectives that describe traditional Buddhist music -- haunting, tranquil, hypnotic -- could easily be used to describe the new age/ambient/Asian hybrid that Markoe offers on this CD. As its title indicates, Zen Meditations was recorded with meditation in mind; in fact, Markoe's liner notes read like a how-to manual on the subject. But Zen Meditations doesn't necessarily have to be used for that purpose, and the music is quite enjoyable regardless of whether or not you practice Zen Buddhism.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson