EVEN IN the trendy realm of New Age music, where it's not always easy to distinguish one recording from another, it's hard to imagine a couple of albums more compatible than the latest releases by woodwind player Paul Horn and guitarist William Ackerman. They're sort of the ebb and flow of the genre.
Unlike his previous recordings at acoustically exotic locations around the world, Horn recorded "Traveler" in a West Coast studio. Nevertheless, the setting accentuates the natural wooden beauty of his many flutes and flatters the young, yearning voices of the San Francisco Boys Chorus on the spiritual "Earth Song," clearly one of the album's highlights.
Save for an ancient air called "Time Travel," Horn and synthesist Christopher Hedge composed all of the pieces with an ear toward inner peace, reflection and, to judge by the liner notes, the kind of psychic channeling Shirley MacLaine has popularized. And yet several tunes, particularly the sitar- and tabla-driven "A Journey," possess a rhythmic drive strong enough to serve as a wakeup call for listeners who generally yawn at this sort of thing.
Like Horn, Ackerman is especially conscious of tone and acoustics on "Conferring With the Moon." Although his fondness for alternate tunings and arpeggiated patterns still governs his work as a composer, this time around the music is more expansive and subtly embellished by several New Age all-stars, including Shadowfax's Chuck Greenberg (on lyricon) and Montreux bassist Michael Manring. One tune, a delicate flute and charango duet called "Mountain Lake," sounds like a page torn from Horn's song book.PAUL HORN --
"Traveler" (Golden Flute/Global Pacific OW-40717).
WILLIAM ACKERMAN -- "Conferring With the Moon" (Windham Hill 1050).
Both appear Sunday at the Warner Theater.