Ancient Leaves by Michael Stearns

For those unaware, Michael Stearns is a legendary ambient pioneer and his 1975 album 'Ancient Leaves' is being given a reissue by the people over at Infinite Fog. It's a heady mix of Gregorian chants, field recordings, Finnish lap harp, and a Mini Moog all recorded onto four-track tape. Expect an immersive experience of early ambient music. 

Vinyl LP £20.99 IF-93LP

Reissue LP on Infinite Fog mastered from original source.

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CD £12.99 IF-93

CD reissue on Infinite Fog mastered from original source.

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Ancient Leaves by Michael Stearns
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8/10 Ant 24 July 2019

Infinite Fog Productions reissue this cult Californian New Age album, originally issued in 1977 on the Continuum Montage label. Unlike some of the stuff from that area/era, ‘Ancient Leaves’ has stood the test of time. This was Stearns debut album and utilized Mini Moog synth and a Finish lap harp (Kantele) which he recorded onto 4 track tape. To this bedrock he adds chants/choir which gives it a real mystical edge - the image of the cat that adorns the sleeve perhaps subliminally making me think of Egyptian mythology.

 I’ve no idea how the album was received at the time but I can imagine the average new age hippy type seeking bliss kinda getting freaked out as it’s actually a pretty dark album at times - the sort of thing the authorities may have thought was a mind control tool from some evil Californian cult. But there are moments of pure bliss too with a distinct German/Berlin School vibe at times - particularly the Klaus Schultze reminiscent, shimmering moments halfway through the first side of the record. 

A real proto ambient/drone gem, rescued from relative obscurity and a proper trip through inner and outer space. Recommended.


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