Iasos, the pioneer of new age music, died on Saturday (January 6). Iasos’ producer and friend Carlos Ninō confirmed the news in a message shared by Douglas Mcgowan of Numero Group—the label behind the 2013 compilation Celestial Soul Portrait. Iasos was 77 years old.
Born in Greece and raised in Upstate New York, Iasos graduated from Cornell University and relocated to Berkeley, California shortly after. There, he engaged in the region’s psychedelic music scene. Iasos has said that while attending Cornell University in the late 1960s, he began hearing what he called “paradise music” in his head.
He defined paradise music, which he also called inter-dimensional music, as an “Earth reproduction of music that exists here and now in other dimensions.” He firmly believed the sounds he heard in his head were literal transmissions from a being on a different plane named Vista.
“Around ’67 or ’68, I just started hearing it in my head,” Iasos said in a 1979 documentary. “I didn’t know where it was coming from, it was like a radio station inside. So I’d be running around listening to it and loving it. That happened for a few years. And then around 1973, I had a profound experience where I sensed a particular being from a higher dimension and I knew in that instant that he was one that all this time that had been purposely, mind to mind, transmitting into my mind. And I also remembered him from before I was born. I realize it’s hard for you to believe, but at least I’m telling you what I believe and you’re free to handle that reality any way you like.”
Iasos began creating some of the earliest new age works by utilizing electronic effects on acoustic instruments, like slide guitars with feedback loops, compressors, and an Echoplex. He was initially resistant to early synthesizers. “I couldn’t stand the way they sounded,” he said in 2011. “It was very cold, sterile, inorganic, didn’t turn me on at all.” That changed when he became fascinated with the RMI Keyboard Computer.
His first album, Inter-Dimensional Music, was released in 1975; that same year, he played electric flute on another pioneering new age album, Steven Halpern’s Spectrum Suite. Across decades, he released heaps of music with titles like Crystal Love, Jeweled Space, and Realms of Light. His most recent piece was “The Garden of Salathooslia,” which was released in September.
A professor at Plymouth State University did a study in 1989 with people who had near-death experiences, asking them to react to different music to see if it sounded like what they heard in their experience. “Strangely, one piece of mine, ‘The Angels of Comfort,’ got the highest rating by a large margin,” Iasos said in 2014.
Iasos was a steadfast believer in the power of music to heal, insisting that there was no message to his music—only “concentrated beauty patterns.” He elaborated:
Beauty has the effect of raising wellbeing. It’s emotionally uplifting, mentally stimulating, spiritually inspiring, and healing on the body. Beauty is healing because love is the cause, beauty is the effect. Beauty is the cause, and healing is the effect. Beauty is healing because it’s caused by love. Haha! Love is healing. When you’re afraid, you get uptight; when you feel love it opens up your energy systems. That’s the spiritual intent behind my music and visuals.
“Our Dearest Brother, Friend, Guide, Mentor, Inspiration, and Great Visionary of Celestial Paradise Music has transitioned from his Earth Body today, Saturday, January 6, 2024,” Ninō wrote. “We invite you to please explore the vastness of Iasos. He poured his heart and soul into his Music and fully intended for it to raise vibrations on Earth, that we all would live in higher harmonic realization of our unique potential, co-existing and co-creating together.”
Read about Inter-Dimensional Music in Pitchfork’s list of “The 50 Best Ambient Albums of All Time.”