New Age Mixer of Many MusicsNew Age music is a category now hugely popular with young people around the world. It loosely comprises several musical genres, including ambient, jazz, contemporary classical, techno, dub, space music and even world fusion.
World fusion music is difficult to define due to the diverse types of music it encompasses. Often it attempts to combine contemporary, alternative sounds with world rhythms played on traditional instruments.
Artists classified as world fusion musicians include Yanni Hrisomallis from Greece, Kitaro from Japan and the group Dead Can Dance from the United States. They also include Yang Bang-ean, a pianist scheduled to play a second concert in South Korea this month.
Mr. Yang, also known by his Japanese name, Ryo Kunihiko, was born in Japan of Korean parents. He has won a following not only in the nation of his birth, but as far away as Europe, for his uninhibited, experimental music.
"Yang Bang-ean is truly a pioneer of New Age music. He boldly explores uncharted territory. His music is like a collection of many world traditional folk songs," said Kim Su-jean, one of his Korean fans.
Born in Tokyo in 1960, Mr. Yang began his career as a session keyboard player. In the 1990s he worked as a producer, composer, and musician for artists from Japan and abroad.
From 1992 to 1994, he produced albums for Beyond, a popular alternative rock group from Hong Kong. The following year he composed and co-produced the soundtrack to the movie "Thunderbolt," starring Jackie Chan, and wrote the themes of several Japanese and Chinese soap operas.
Mr. Yang's first solo album, "The Gate of Dreams," was released in Japan in 1996 under his Japanese name. His fans credit him with creating a whole new style of contemporary music, which combines classical melodies with folk music from various cultures.
His new album, "Only Heaven Knows," even unites rock with orchestral music and songs of different languages (including Korean).
"He demonstrates how well music from different cultures and genres can be molded and shaped together," said Lee Eung-su, chief manager of Sonix Media.
An example is the song "Prince of Cheju," a tribute to Korea's Cheju Island. In it he layers the upbeat sounds of Korean musical instruments like the taepyongso (flute) and changgo (hourglass-shaped drum) over the solemn sounds of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Mr. Yang will be performing his eclectic mix of sounds at the Hoam Art Hall in downtown Seoul on Nov. 26. He will be joined by "Puri," a local percussion band with whom he previously performed at the Kyongju Culture Expo.
For more information, call Sonix Media at 02-3272-3968.
by Kim Jae-seon