August 23, 1991 at 04:00 AM EDT

Keys of the Kingdom

Current Status
In Season
Electronic, Experimental
We gave it a C-

I thought the Moody Blues were nowhere near the cutting edge — and in fact on their way to grandfatherhood — but I was wrong. In the tradition set by British avant-garde rocker Brian Eno, the long-lived group is now artfully pursuing so-called ”ambient” music that, like Muzak, functions best when barely noticeable to the listener. It’s amazing: No matter how loudly or softly you play the Moody Blues’ Keys of the Kingdom, and no matter how often, I guarantee you won’t even remember hearing it. But there are some flaws. Despite the group’s earnest attempt to embrace blankness, the first few bars of ”Is This Heaven?” carry enough melody to suggest an actual song — in this instance the Beach Boys’ ”Don’t Worry Baby” — and for that reason disrupt the soothing, healing effect the music would otherwise so wonderfully provide. I suspect actual lyrics may be involved here too — but I’m not sure, so I’ll listen again. Oh, wait a minute. I already am. C-

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