Some people are deeply moved by New Age music. Others think it’s swill. Kitaro’s past work did establish him as one of New Age’s musical kings (he was signed by a major record label and has toured widely; he was the subject of a 1989 PBS special). But even those who like New Age may have trouble with Kitaro’s 14th album.

He seems to be changing his tune. Here and there on Kojiki you’ll hear tinkling bells, or an electronic whoosh you might almost mistake for waves crashing on a misty beach. But for the most part that’s as close as the album gets to the normally contemplative sound you’d expect from New Age. Instead, the seven instrumental pieces on Kojiki are unexpectedly dramatic. They’re meant to evoke the grand sweep of ancient Japanese myths, which depict the world tumultuously created from chaos. And they retell those tales in a musical language straight from the soundtrack of a bad science fiction film.

What would the dialogue in that film be like? ”Captain! The ship! It’s breaking apart! It wasn’t built to handle the strains of this black hole!” Or: ”We’ve reached the center of the galaxy! My God, man, I’ve never seen such glorious stars!”

Not even Andrew Lloyd Webber has written music that pounds out 10th-rate cliches with such unrelenting sincerity. Kitaro is like a prophet who rides 10,000 feverish miles to tell us news we all heard 20 years ago. F

  • Music