Two years ago I came across an extraordinary blog of new age cassette tapes around the same time that I was thoroughly engrossed in Music From Memory’s Talk To The Sea anthology of Gigi Masin’s music. With a near insatiable desire that I scrolled, click, and consumed several releases on the aforementioned blog, called Sounds Of The Dawn.
I remember the exact moment when I came across the album Rays, with its steel blue jacket of two manta rays in underwater flight. The artist was Aeolus, the label Global Pacific Records. Intrigued by this mysterious, gorgeous cover and the record label’s name, I quickly dug deeper online and discovered that Rays was a locally produced release, and Global Pacific was founded in Hawai‘i. The music was unlike anything I’d heard from these islands.
My eyes widened and a huge smile broke over my face — I knew this would become the gateway I needed, a launching point into discovering a new age music scene that has existed in Hawaii, yet until this moment was a complete unknown for me. Of course, the roots of Aloha Got Soul are in the jazz, funk, and soul music I’ve somewhat obsessively talked about on this blog. But as the blog expanded into a record label in 2015, I knew that the scope of music discussed and distributed through this channel must also expand.
For my most dedicated readers, this was apparent when I wrote about my design for the label logo:
Aloha Got Soul is now a record label, focusing on quality reissues of rare and relatively unknown Hawaiian soul, funk, rare groove and beyond.
…Refining the mission helped establish a concept for the logo: that the music of our islands is one, regardless of genre or generation. It quickly became evident that the wave provides the perfect symbolism for this: for every wave in the ocean is connected.
Although I’ve since further refined that first sentence, the phrase “and beyond” hinted at what would eventually come: AGS-LP003, a retrospective release in collaboration with Robert ‘Aeolus’ Myers himself. For it was in May 2014 that he and I first floated the idea of a sort of “best of” spanning the four solo works in his discography, which include the following albums:
- Aeolian Melodies (1982, 1984)
- Rays (1985)
- The Magician (1989)
- High Priestess (1993, 2006)
Slowly and surely we pieced together a potential tracklist, settling on 13 tracks that now compose ÆOLUS: A Retrospective. Each composition flows into the next, creating a sonic journey in which the listener discovers a greater sense of who ÆOLUS is with each song, culminating in its final moments with the exhilarating “The Magician” and the contemplative, meditative “On Angels Becoming Humans” (which is an excerpt of the 20-plus minute original found on Aeolian Melodies).
For the release’s liner notes, Robert and I wrote a few sentences about each track. Robert’s take provides a look at the creative process and artistic intention behind each composition. My notes take a different approach, threading a storyline through the anthology’s carefully selected tracks.
AGS-LP003 showcases recordings that were previously available only on cassette or CD.
The only song previously available on vinyl is “Archangel Michael”, which can be found in large quantities for cheap on Discogs and eBay (I bought mine immediately). Rays was released on CD only in Japan concurrently with the US cassette release of the same title. I haven’t been able to find a single copy of this CD. Robert tells me the left and right channels were mistakenly switched during remastering, so maybe it’s better there aren’t so many copies available.
(There are local new age cassette tapes still to be found — some of which Sounds Of The Dawn has done a good job of, like sharing this curiosity from Kahului, Maui — but my guess is that Global Pacific was the biggest, most successful new age label from the islands (later relocating to the West Coast) that had few competitors or compatriots in Hawai‘i. Here’s a quick read about the genre from a 21st century perspective.)
Considering the solid catalog of four solo works, one might assume that ÆOLUS carved a new path for electronic music in Hawai‘i. It’s true, as far as I know, that few artists in Hawaii have produced a body of work, let alone embarked on a musical journey, such as the one that ÆOLUS has created. But much of the islands’ general population didn’t ever quite fully embrace the burgeoning New Age scene that ÆOLUS found himself a part of during the 1980s and the early 1990s. My hope is that AGS-LP003, as a unique representation of the kinds of music that is created in Hawai‘i, will inspire a handful of local musicians as they travel along their own creative journeys, perhaps bringing out new ideas and sounds that the islands are now ready to hear. We shall see.
As the time drew nearer to officially announce this double LP anthology, I began to update the wording behind Aloha Got Soul’s mission to better reflect the new expansion into genres beyond jazz, funk and soul. This release marks a new chapter of “bringing rare and relatively unknown music of Hawai‘i to the surface,” which is where this blog-turned-label is at now.
Often ethereal, ÆOLUS’ music is driven by synthesizers, melodic flutes, sweeping patterns, and subtle rhythms to seed inspiration from deep within the listener. This anthology of 13 tracks tells the story of a man whose music elevates its listeners to a place of inspiration and enlightenment.
At face value, AGS-LP003 is a marked departure from something like The Rhythm Of Life — on the surface, the sounds presented on this latest release are much different from anything we’ve released on the label so far. Yet below the surface, the music is still part of the same ocean of ideas, inspirations, and vibrations; music created by inspired individuals in Hawai‘i. This is what Aloha Got Soul is all about.
ÆOLUS: A Retrospective is slated for worldwide release on February 17, 2017. You can pre-order AGS-LP003 here.