Quality: 3.75 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5
Kitaro has always been near the top of my scale for new age cheese, although still several notches lower than schlockmeister and Entertainment Tonight guru John Tesh. But like many otherwise fine musicians who committed musical sins in the late 80's and 90's (I'm looking directly at you Vangelis and Tangerine Dream), there are some charms to be found on some of the 70's records. You will have to have a tolerance for synthesized flutes and brass, but at least they're coming out of an analog beast of a machine (maybe a Yamaha CS-80) here. If that fails, Kitaro gets five extra points for his earlier involvement in the Far East Family Band.
Anyway, if you've made it thus far, it's time to consider a few of the tracks. The opening two meld into a nice, drifting suite, but the "dream" sequenced "Kaleidoscope" is the first cut here to get my full attention. It has plenty of fun twinkly sound FX in the background, and some nice creamy, warm analog synth leads to propel it along. "Sun" belongs to the school of rarefied, narcotic washes of sound, which always holds my attention. The epic "Cloud in the Sky" closes the album with more distinctly 70's synth leads, and what I imagine must be a legitimate drum set.
While it does come with a side of cheese, Ki is an enjoyable slice of analog synth dreaminess. I wouldn't rate this with Tangerine Dream's albums from the same period, but it certainly would have made a fine alternate soundtrack for Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" had Vangelis been caught in a wall of Greek fire. Just as a side note, when I first worked in Japan, the company president had several of the trainees try to push him over. He said they failed because of his "Ki," but I was of the opinion that no one tried that hard as to not get fired immediately. Maybe that was in fact his "Ki."