The most amazing thing happened to me the other day. I finally figured out a song and, by extension, another song that I’ve been trying to find the name of for OVER 15 YEARS! It happened at my new job, of all places, and now granted, it is a spa, so of course I’m going to hear a lot of soft, relaxing, ambient music, but I was not expecting this.
The song is “Wings to Altair” by David Lanz. It turns out that David Lanz is a name in the New Age scene. In this interview, he talks about New Age’s origins, his style and techniques as a composer. Fascinating stuff that gave me a new view of both the song and the genre. Like, take this:
Ok… let me try and set the stage here. This was at first, a more underground musical movement in Japan, Europe and in the US (primarily on the West Coast). Both electronic, starting with groups like Tangerine Dream back in the ’70s, Kitaro and before him Tomita in Japan, and of course the mostly acoustic music from Windham Hill in Southern California. Artists like pianist George Winston and guitarist Will Ackerman… deemed “hot tub music” 🙂
At the same time, there was a growing interest in yoga, eastern religions, meditation and boomers looking for a different way to relate to high-stress lifestyles. Listening to a more relaxing, at times experimental music which had elements of folk, jazz, Eastern classical music and even nature sounds, started to become more common.
Much of this music was instrumental, non-threatening, not like hardcore jazz might have been viewed, and it filled the space soft rock was also occupying at the time. At first, this was not mainstream, and pretty much under the radar, so to speak.
I love it, “hot tub music.”
It’s mainly a particular part of the song that first got me hooked. I heard it on a hip hop/experimental beats mixtape from a friend back when I was at KCSB. He pointed out the part at 0:44 into “Wings of Altair,” and asked where this sample came from. I didn’t know, but the song itself left an impression on me.
So “Wings of Altair” is the sample. Using Whosampled, I figured out the hip hop group and track that featured it. This bad ass song called, “Sexual for Elizabeth” by Five Deez. Give a listen.
Five Deez stands for “five dimensions” because you listen to music in five dimensions. I learned that from a great interview I found with the Five Deez members, when searching for background on “Sexual for Elizabeth”. It’s such a dope song, that takes an unexpected turn towards the end with a cool jazzy keyboard and an appearance by Shing02, who raps in Japanese at around 3:25 and on. By the way, if you’re in an interview mood, here’s a little one with Shing02.
I’d only ever heard the instrumental for “Sexual for Elizabeth”, and hadn’t heard the full song, much less with lyrics. When you hear the full track – whether of the originally sampled song or the reinterpretation – it’s fun to hear what the DJ edited it down to.
Who knows why things like these songs stay with us looping over and over. Sometimes, for me it’s words at a time from one song blending into the next and I forget the origins of either until I can’t not hear the mixing of the two. I don’t know why I got fixated on knowing this information. I do think I hear the song differently every time I read more and listen again.
Oh, a little post script note that in writing this – I ended up finding a remix of “Sexual for Elizabeth” in getting the links set up for this post by Prefuse 73 – who I love. I have yet to hear this version so far…