Various - Women In Electronic Music 1977

Originally released in 1977, on the 1750 Arch label, the album has been known to change hands for hundreds of dollars, such is the interest in these relatively obscure electronic music recordings.

The original title contained no reference to the gender of its participants, and rightfully so, but once word got out that a whole album was devoted to the works of female electronic music composers, at a time when nothing comparable was available, the album rapidly found itself in high demand among aficionados of the genre.

I first heard the album without actually realizing I was listening to it! After putting the CD in the CD-ROM player of my Mac I was intending to listen to it at a later hour, but for some reason it started up on its own and I was treated to a subliminal preview without actually realizing the music was coming from my apartment. And what I heard was wonderful.

The first track (recorded in 1938) consists of an eerie off-world atmospheric piece that really gives me the chills, in a good way. It is remarkable that music like this was being produced almost 60 years ago! According to the liner notes' her scores often required the use of such instruments as the Theremin, Ondes Martenot, Trautonium, La Croix Sonore, Dynaphone, Rhythmicon, Oscillon and the Multimonika to name just a few.

The next pieces are total ambience, World Rhythms relying almost entirely on tape recordings of rivers and small animals, and Bye Bye Butterfly which consists of an impressive display of sonic extremes while a sombre operatic performance takes place way below.

As the album progresses so does the march through time, and as the mid seventies rolls around we are treated to computer generated tape pieces, inner-city Burundi style drum patterns with primal screams and fluttering Moog Synthesizer noises, an amazing work consisting entirely of sine tones, and finally two Laurie Anderson pieces that combine recordings of conversations, various acoustic instruments and strange distorted tape loops.

Needless to say the album is an unusual and stimulating collection of recordings that were put to tape when electronic music was regarded as avant garde, experimental or whatever term may have been applied to the music the general public rarely got to hear, and if you didn't know when each piece was recorded you certainly would be forgiven for thinking they were all recorded recently. Fascinating!

Rating: 792,510 (out of a possible 1,000,000)