We’re happy to announce a pure gem of early ambient music.
Michael Stearns is a multi-genre music composer and soundtrack designer/producer. His credits include music for Ron Fricke’s non-verbal 70MM films „Chronos“, „Baraka“ and „Samsara(with Lisa Gerrard And Marcello De Francisci)“, music for NASA, Laserium, Disney films, HBO, ABC, PBS, BBC, Discovery Channel and James Cameron’s „The Abyss“, „Titanic“ and „Avatar“. Michael works in his studio „The Guest House“, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In 1975, Michael moved from Tucson to Los Angeles to study with Emilie Conrad at the Continuum Studio. Emilie had ‘live’ music for her ‘movement meditation’ classes, and Michael began performing with Fred Stofflet, Gary David, and Don Preston. Ancient Leaves (25:43) was Michael’s first album, recorded in 1976/77 with a Mini Moog synthesizer and a Finish lap harp (Kantele) onto 4 track tape. To the other instruments, Michael added Emilie chanting, an ascending choir with Susan Harper and Linda Olsen vocalists, Gregorian Chants and a night ambience recorded in the desert outside of Tucson, Arizona, his hometown. It was initially released on LP and cassette.
The ‘B’ side, Elysian E (23:13) was performed with an Arp String Ensemble played through an MXR digital delay, one of the first, then slowed to half speed. To this he added Moog and EML synthesizers, The Beam and his voice.
Mastering from original source – Martin Bowes(Attrition) in The Cage Studio.“A later 70’s California New Age record that has a much more spacey sound than most. Reminds me a whole lot of the first few Klaus Schulze solo lp’s. Two side-long cosmic drones consisting of layered electronics and hypnotic wordless voices. Stearns’ best record by far. “ https://waxidermy.com
„Probably the earliest example of modern (electronic) ambient—divorced from piano minimalism, guitar wankery, jazz, New Age cheese, or whatever—it’s mostly just deep, dark synthesizer drones here. Ancient Leaves was simply ahead of its time. This was Michael Stearns‘ first album, and I think it’s his best, although most people seem to prefer either Planetary Unfolding or Encounter, which admittedly are excellent as well. Regardless, it’s undeniable that Ancient Leaves is a landmark album and Michael Stearns is clearly one of the main pioneers of ambient music; it amazes me this guy is never mentioned in same breath as Eno et al. E.g. Ancient Leaves was never released on CD until 1999. 1999! It’s ridiculous how little attention this guy’s music gets, even among ambient aficionados. I think he definitely deserves more than that.“ – dvd muze
„5.0 out of 5 stars The Finest „Growth“ Tool I’ve Ever Had!
This is a treasure!! Ancient Leaves enters your very soul and, if listened to in its entirety, in one sitting, will give you a vehicle on which to travel to the very depths of your mine. I used this CD for a number of years for meditation and discovery…Believe what you will, but I „traveled“ through a learning process not available anywhere else but in your own mind and soul. I would go on and on, but what I would want to convey is difficult to convey is not possibly translated to words. Each listener, I’m very sure will have his/her extremely personal experience of expansion and growth. What I truly love about Mr. Stearns accomplishment with Ancient Leaves is that it gave me a journey „out“ or deeply „in“ (which ever way you wish to translate it), allowed me to SAFELY explore and grow…and then carefully and gently led me back to my body and present „reality“. I have compared my „journeys“ on Stearns music with my husband’s amazing journeys using large does of LSD and we found that not only were my discoveries equally expanding and deep, but I „returned“ much more easily, maintaining the knowledge and wisdom that I had gained. My experience with this music occurred when it was first released on cassette tape. I would and will still use it as my inspiration as soon as I find a CD. “ – Anchild