New Age Artist Iasos Transfixes Concertgoers

Olivia Gericke, Arts Editor

A group of Oberlin students affixed their attention to a projected video of paradisal landscapes and abstract visuals with accompanying celestial music at Iasos’s “Full Multimedia Concert With Visuals” on Monday, Feb. 25 in Fairchild Chapel. They watched with wavering hopes of aligning themselves to a higher state of being and to connect to another spiritual dimension.

Iasos (pronounced ya’sos), one of the founders of New Age music, held three events at Oberlin this past week: a screening of his film Realms of Light; a “Meet Iasos” informal gathering; and a multimedia concert.

Iasos, 66, was born in Greece and moved to the United States as a child. His art was originally inspired by spontaneous music he heard in his head in 1967. Iasos titled this new form of sound “paradise music,” and decided to pursue sharing it with others in hopes of delivering spiritual healing. Iasos’s work is designed to help connect listeners to different celestial realms and to higher aspects of their own unique inner gods or goddesses.

Before beginning his show, Iasos explained that his music would spiritually awaken the audience and asked attendees to be open to forming a celestial connection. Iasos asked the crowd to refrain from clapping but rather to respond with an elongated sound of “la.” The result transformed the audience into participants on an unusual heavenly journey, rather than distant spectators.

The concert was performed the night of a full moon. In an e-mail interview, Iasos explained the moon’s significance. “The effect of the full moon is to amplify emotional energies, regardless of whether they are positive emotions or negative emotions. … Since my intention is to give my audience a bath of powerful positive uplifting emotions, I harness the influence of the full moon to further this objective,” he said.

The performance focused on the interconnection of Iasos’s music and animated visuals he made himself. The close relationship between the two media is important to his spiritual philosophy. Iasos said, “Music and visuals have certain capacities or abilities. … Music has the ability to induce divine emotions. Visuals have the ability to induce divine thought-forms. When the music and the visuals are working together, … their combined influence can ignite a person into expanded states of awareness.”

Iasos played a series of distinct instruments in sync with colorful visuals and additional prerecorded music throughout the concert. During his performance, Iasos often looked up to the ceiling and occasionally raised his hand as if channeling some greater being.

Iasos designed his animations using the computer programs After-Effects, Combustion and Premiere. The projector displayed a variety of images that concentrated on the notion of an idealized, psychedelic and alternate world. Underwater elements and creatures such as jellyfish, stingrays, sea urchins and bubbles were featured in the visual projections alongside images of Greek ruins, dancing women, pyramids and abstract forms resembling the inside of a kaleidoscope.

In the final sequence of the performance, Iasos gestured to the audience to rise. Standing for a few minutes, the participants watched as the visuals turned into a star-filled galaxy, simulating the feeling of floating within space and possibly indicating movement into another realm.

The video varied in speed as it followed the music’s ever-changing pace. The diverse group of images appeared unexpectedly and often humorously, as indicated by frequently muffled laughs from audience members. During short reprieves between songs, many in the crowd dispersed. However, a substantial number stayed the full hour and a half, collectively humming “la” following Iasos’s lead.

The performance finished with Iasos sitting at the end of the stage facing the audience while the screen displayed a formation of abstract shapes and the music became a low hum. The crowd slowly got up and appeared unsure about whether to leave or how to process their experience.

The multimedia concert and “Meet Iasos” informal gathering were the first two events filmed for an upcoming documentary focused on Iasos and his work. The film is in its beginning stages.

Iasos’ work has been used by NASA, Encyclopedia Britannica and in multiple healthcare facilities. According to a 1989 study by the Psychology Department of Plymouth State College, Iasos’s music was rated as the most comparable to music people have experienced hearing in near-death state.