Release Date: Sep 16, 2016
Record label: RVNG Intl.
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
“Ladies and gentleman, this woman standing next to me is an electronic wizard,” declared a bemused and gleeful David Letterman on his show in 1980. He sounded like a wide-eyed child standing beside a chipper alien, one with braids in her hair, giving network-television watchers a portal into her new expanding universe. Letterman listed off her credentials: composing commercial soundtracks for the likes of Coca-Cola, reproducing electronic effects for “the disco version of Star Wars,” and winning many awards.
The pair utilize the complete possibilities of the Buchla synthesizers (including the hybrid 200E that combines analog and digital signals and sounds) in three long pieces, delivering an intensely focused, expansive result. "A New Day" begins with channel-to- channel rumbling and low-end drones before skittering bouts of midrange wow and flutter signal the movement in its journey. Bleeps, bloops, and extended notes come cascading out of the backdrop; Ciani weaves mysterious, assertive, and deliberate melodic lines as Smith paints constant humming "basslines" that have their own sense of tonal expression.
When I spoke with Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith earlier this year, the LA-based musician and composer told me why she first fell in love with the music of Terry Riley: "I remember just being like, 'Oh... It sounds like the universe. It sounds like DNA.'" It's a quote that popped in my head frequently when listening to FRKWYS Vol. 13: Sunergy.
On Sunergy, RVNG Intl. brings together two masters of the esoteric art of Buchla synthesis to produce a collaborative record comprising two extended ambient tracks. Celebrated Buchla pioneer Suzanne Ciani and relative newcomer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith have created a harrowing work that pulses with the otherworldly sounds of the Buchla music easel.
RVNG Intl.‘s FRKWYS series is an ongoing set of collaborations between like-minded musicians from different generations. The results are always fascinating and often excellent (such as when Steve Gunn recorded with Mike Cooper or when Julianna Barwick and Ikue Mori created compositions together). The latest installment brings together Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Suzanne Ciani for Sunergy.
Suzanne Ciani and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith — FRKWYS Vol. 13: Sunergy (RVNG Intl)In the early 1970s, Suzanne Ciani was one of the first people to study computer generated music at UC Berkeley, where she met Don Buchla, the inventor of a line of synthesizers. Many years later, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith also discovered the Buchla synthesizer and abandoned her indie folk project Ever Isles to start crafting electronic soundscapes inspired by nature and her surroundings.