Centerpoint: Poetry & Music for Christmas, music by Jeff Johnson, poetry by Keith Patman, read by Dallas McKennon (Ark Records).

This could have been titled “Christmas from the Hearts of Space.” Jeff Johnson’s high-reverb “New Age” sound will appeal to regular radio listeners to “Music from the Hearts of Space” and Windham Hill fans. The contemplative blend of environmental sounds (owl calls, surf), acoustic instruments (flute, guitar), and synthesized electronic music serves the few carols included here well. The usually jubilant “Carol of the Bells” has a haunting character, and the Wexford Carol mixes Celtic flavors with Latin rhythms and contemporary electronic sounds.

Contemplation is neither napping nor daydreaming. The poems interspersed with these carols make this album something to listen to. Don’t buy it unless you plan to think.

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