Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai Volume 1

Emotionally moved by the events of Sept.

Emotionally moved by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and initiated during a five-day detour to Honolulu while in transit at that time, Kitaro has emerged with his most thoughtful and evocative album in years. "Sacred Journey" takes the story of Ku-Kai, a Buddhist holy man, as he makes the traditional pilgrimage to the 88 temples of the Japanese island of Shikoku. Making the pilgrimage himself, Kitaro has sampled bells from each temple and used them in his compositions. Perhaps the sacred tone of the bells or the contemplative moods of the temples has modulated Kitaro's more bombastic and sentimental tendencies, as he sculpts a music that balances between pastoral and deep space environments, desert flute melodies and arcing synthesizer solos. "Sacred Journey" retains the classic Kitaro sound of the 1980s but is played now with a renewed spirit.—JD