My favorite album in quite a few years. Sevag is not only a technically-masterful keyboard player and synthesist, he is also a tremendously sensitive musician who leads first with his heart, then by his ear, and only finally by his brain.
I am a big fan of “Close Your Eyes and See,” Sevag’s ground-breaking 1989 album, but while his subsequent albums from the 90s and 2000s have been sensitive and progressive flavors of new age/world fusion, I have found them to be rather uninteresting. Try as I may, I have just not been able to connect with them.
So I have been thrilled to have been listening to “Space for a Crowded World” for a couple months now. It has been in heavy rotation like no album since I made the concerted, willful effort to engage with U2’s “No Line on the Horizon” back in 2009 (not that that concerted effort was difficult or anything– I *love* NLOTH!). The difference between the two albums is that, while I knew that NLOTH was coming well before it was released, SFACW came out of nowhere, and has blasted through various psycho/emotional barriers I have built around myself, and through my heart and soul in a totally unexpected way. I mean, I *knew* that Sevag had it in him– CYEAS is one of my favorite albums of all time and I still listen to it regularly (its opener, “Horizon,” blows me away every time)– it’s more like Sevag knew what *I* needed in my life, *right now*; like an old friend has moved into my town after decades living across the country, and we’re now connecting more than ever.
So, what do I actually *like* about the music on this album? Well, it is beautiful, as we all expect from Sevag, but it’s not *only* beautiful. It is also sophisticated and technical. As I mentioned before, Oystein Sevag leads with his heart, then ear, then only finally by his brain. The difference between this album and everything since CYEAS is that this one has more *brain* in it. The cover art illustrates the feeling of the album perfectly. It’s like Sevag has been to the International Space Station and has experienced the “Overview Effect,” in which space-goers undergo a transformed perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it, or of course more likely, he has been closely following and has been deeply influenced by all the amazing photographs and information flooding our modern media by the various space probes, telescopes, satellites, and planetary missions that are currently out there extending our eyes, ears, and brains.
I know that *I* have been deeply moved by all the space imagery and mind-blowing data that NASA, the ESA, and other space ventures have been generating in the past 10-15 years. And it seems like Oystein Sevag has been, too. And therein lies, I think, the deep connection between SFACW and where I am in my life right now. I am currently undergoing divorce after 15 years, with the major changes that entails. And likewise, Sevag seems to be guiding our hearts out of the nest, so to speak, lifting our eyes to the skies, preparing our souls to take the next logical evolutionary step outward, off of our home planet, into the great void beyond the warm confines of our sweet Earth. But, while I do consider this to be “space music,” it is not *deep-space* music– rather, it is “low-earth-orbit” music. It is an introduction to space music, which takes a first few baby steps off-planet, while also maintaining an intimate heart-connection with its mother Earth. This album makes me feel adventurous and insightful, as I am seeing my home and my life from a new, broader perspective, yet maintains a comfortable, familiar relationship with what I already know.
And that points to another connection I have with this album: I am a teacher, and as a teacher, I know that humans learn by cognitively connecting new knowledge with current knowledge. To me, it seems like Sevag has experienced a major life-change of his own– one in which he is now supremely comfortable utilizing his amazing technical talent to express his expanding heart. The opening three tracks of SFACW (“Landing,” “Urban Nocturne,” and “Gentle”) convey a feeling of both a zen-like peace and centered self-assuredness, combined with an intelligent anticipation and heartfelt longing to reach out and connect with all the beauty and magic he knows is out there in the Universe beyond.
So, I think what makes this album so perfect for me right now is that it is harmonizing with my current vibration: I am feeling fragile and sensitive and in need of comfort and heart-connection, while at the same time I know that major change is also occurring and that I will soon outgrow my current confines and step forward into a new life. I am feeling “crowded” by my past and any expectations I may have of myself, and “Space for a Crowded World” is my spiritual guide for the next phase of my journey, helping me connect the best of my past, of who I *was*, with the best that I *shall be.*
Thank you, Oystein Sevag, for the blessed gift. Namasté.
- A Cognitive Shift: The Overview Effect (ekostories.com)
- Exploring the Space Race Through Music and Conversation with Elders (music2spark.com)
- Earth Time-lapse: Bruce Berry (steamboatfriday.com)
- Twitter and Apple gear up for music service launches (guardian.co.uk)
- Space Music with Astronaut Chris Hatfield and the Bare Naked Ladies (mysticfare.typepad.com)