Planetary Unfolding

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Planetary Unfolding
Studio album by Michael Stearns
Released 1981
Recorded 1981
Genre Space, ambient, new-age
Length 47:31
Label Continuum Montage (1981), Sonic Atmospheres (1985)
Michael Stearns chronology
Morning Jewel
(1979)Morning Jewel1979
Planetary Unfolding
Light Play
(1983)Light Play1983
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars[1]

Planetary Unfolding (1981) is an album of electronic ambient music by U.S. musician Michael Stearns. It is considered a classic of ambient music.[2][3]


Michael Stearns became a resident composer musician at Emily Conrad's meditation classes in 1975. He initially composed and performed on a Minimoog and various electro-acoustic instruments. In 1979 he was introduced to the Serge modular synthesizer by Kevin Braheny who owned a 15-panel system (dubbed "The Mighty Serge"), which he used on Morning Jewel. He then built his own 12-panel Serge. With this, as with Braheny's system, he performed electronic music feeling evocative of space.

Planetary Unfolding was recorded around 1981, when Michael left Conrad's Continuum Studio. The musical ideas that Michael performed on the Serge in previous years were put together and developed and gave birth to this 52 minute piece of music in two parts, each cut divided into three tracks.

The album was first released in 1981 on Stearns' own label, Continuum Montage. It was reissued on CD from 1985 to 1991 by Sonic Atmospheres and is since unavailable: as of June 2009, it has not seen reissue on Stearns's 2000-launched label Earth Turtle.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "In the Beginning..." – 8:00
  2. "Toto, I've a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore!" – 6:20
  3. "Wherever Two or More Are Gathered" – 9:19
  4. "Life in the Gravity Well" – 6:55
  5. "As the Earth Kissed the Moon" – 9:55
  6. "Something's Moving" – 5:19


  1. ^ Allmusic ( review
  2. ^ Towne, Jeff & Manzi, Peter (2002) "The 25 Most Influential Ambient Albums of All Time", New Age Voice, October 2002 issue, reprinted at via (also reproduced with a free audio list at via
  3. ^ "25 Significant STAR'S END Albums". unknown (Star's End website). 2001. Retrieved 2007-02-20.