Twelve years of being a “professional” music critic and seven of running a “record label” made me a target for anybody with a demo to schlep. As a result, I’ve got a garage full of poorly made CDs that I will never listen to and never be able to sell. It’s an awful waste. In order to make myself feel better about it, I will periodically share a randomly chosen Dusty Garage CD with you. Maybe you’ll like it. (You won’t.)

Today’s album is Another Point In Space, by Kenton Stiles. You may be wondering about the title—is he making some kind of math reference, or maybe a statement on modern interpersonal relationships? Does he live out in the middle of nowhere? Does he have self-confidence problems?

Nope. It was recorded in space:


Kenton playing space keyboards


sensitive space guitar

As you might already be guessing, Kenton Stiles is one of those New Agey balladeers who shuns any kind of irony in favor of Deep Meaning and Big Topics. Albums in this genre almost always include at least one song about the hectic pace of modern society and wanting to get back to the simple things in life. It’s usually called “The Simple Things” or “Rat Race” or something along those lines. Musically, these artists tend to combine the least interesting elements of folk and New Age with vocals that range between embarrassing and pleasantly dull. And you can forget about production values. (Chances are, the artist has.)

Kenton fits neatly into this genre, meaning his music isn’t awful, but neither is it interesting. I’m getting sort of sleepy just writing about it. I mean, it takes some really spectacular talent to bring anything new to the table on topics like world peace, or the brotherhood of man, or environmentalism. I can appreciate that he’s passionate about these things, but he can’t pull it off. Here are some of my favorite lines from the album:

I hope you listen I have words to sing to you
I know this song may challenge your point of view:
:Religion’s one thing
Death is another
God never said
To kill your brother
It’s true
— “It’s True”

Don’t take away the wilderness
Don’t develop all the open space
Once it’s gone you can’t replace it
Every creature deserves to show its face
— “Wilderness”

When I think of you lately,
Don’t know what to say
Just keeps getting better
With every day
— “The Time”

You know what I really wish for this day
It would never end, never go away
I’m so afraid the lights will go out
And I will wake up with just a shout!!
— “CTOA”

Plenty of listeners don’t care about lyrics, as long as the music’s interesting. (These people make me sad.) But Another Point in Space is equally pedestrian musically. Again, it isn’t awful. But it isn’t memorable either. Compounding this problem is the production and engineering, which seems to have consisted of plugging into the board and setting everyone’s levels equally. Kenton’s wisp of a voice is buried in the mix, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily—but somehow, everything else is buried too. I’ve heard concert bootlegs with sharper mixes.

Fortunately, you don’t need to take my word for it. Hear for yourself! Here’s “Drive Away,” Kenton’s obligatory song about—you guessed it—the hectic pace of modern society and wanting to get back to the simple things in life. It’s actually sort of a rant about corporate training, which makes me think Kenton might possibly be one of ‘s coworkers:

Kenton Stiles – Drive Away