Friday, 17 February 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #63 - Suzanne Ciani, "Lixiviation"

Piccadilly Records alerted me to this fascinating wee album.

Suzanne Ciani was a later Julia Derbyshire type stitching together (ooh, gendered!) electronic music back in the dawn of circuits in the 1970s using her Buchla Analogue Modular Synthesizer. Most of the tracks on the compilation are background jingles for Atari products or TV promos; but then there are a couple of hypnotic full-length numbers as well. And she herself was a classical pianist, whose sound effect work for ads was massively in demand. She even contributed effects to the disco version of Star Wars, which seems to have brought her face before the cameras.

The title track has the air of an abandoned playground, rusty swing and all. Or a complicated form of living chess played in an imagined future, parallel to our past. "Paris 1971" sounds as though it was pretty cold there that year. And that a lot of walls were stared out with great de-focused intent. It's the sound that the things in the corner of your eye make when they're trying to get your attention. "Princess With Orange Feet" burbles in a highly irregal fashion. It has has a sense of her machines trying to express themselves and I'm not sure how much her equipment may have been left to its own devices.

"Second Breath" is intense. A long electric throb of a beginning that never ends, pressing my ear to an enormous bug zapper in massive slow motion. Something is combusting in this sound. Maybe it has a meditative purpose. My tinnitus chimes in with this grey noise. The soundtrack to the scariest public information film you'll ever see. Boards in Canada in purgatory. I like it: all nine minutes.

It's the smaller pieces that illustrate more of the effect that Ciani had on pop culture. The electronic flags that fluttered from a thousand TV stations, corporations and video games. They seem empty in a sense and difficult to tie in with her later New Age fame without taking a cynical view of one or both enterprises. So I'll try not to.

"Sound of Wetness" rounds it off with the classic "computer brain" tinkling noise and some squelches. Bam!

Rating:  Entrepreneurial Quids out of Motherboards of Invention

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you might have the track names for Second Breath and Sound Of Wetness the wrong way round. Otherwise, have an 8-bit gold star.