Monday, 6 March 2017
Maggi Payne - Crystal (expanded edition 1991)
We've previously heard Maggi Payne (b.1945 in Texas) on this blog purely as a flautist, contributing to David Behrman's sublime On The Other Ocean. Her own work, at least from the 80s as evidenced by this 1991 compilation (the last four tracks were released as a 1986 LP), could go on much more dark ambient journeys of treated flute sounds and pure electronics - and was never less than fascinating, essential listening.
A good case in point are the two opening tracks here. Ahh-Ahh (ver. 2.1) (1987) was the musical part of a video-art collaboration, and alternates shimmering melodic sections with austere, rhythmic sections of treated flute noise, breathing and pure white-noise hiss. By contrast, Subterranean Network (1985) ends with a gossamer ambient requiem after varying dynamic sections of pure, unsettling electronics, evoking its inspiration of US soldiers being forced to work as reconnaissance 'tunnel rats' in Vietnam.
On all of these seven tracks, averaging 10 minutes in length, it's clear how adept Maggi Payne is at manipulating different sound sources to come up with something truly memorable. Phase Transitions (1989) is next up, and takes one of the most ubiquitously 'commercial' synthesisers of the era, the Roland D-50, and teases out its hidden un-commercial potential to great effect. White Night (1984) consists of a voice speaking names that are digitally manipulated into a paranoid invocation of the restless sleeplessness intended by the title. Like Subterranean Network, this one ends at full blast after a few deceptive sections in near silence.
I wasn't going to mention every track individually, but hey ho, only three to go. Solar Wind (1983) manipulates a tape supplied by NASA of bow shock electromagnetic waves created by Saturn and Venus, as observed by Voyager 2. The second half of this one in particular is stunning, sounding like a digital-era version of kosmiche Tangerine Dream. From the same year, Scirocco is purely a flute and tape piece, but still sounds virtually all electronic, and lastly Crystal (1982) is another contribution to a video work, composed on Moog III synth. All in all, these 71 minutes of sound-shiftings get the highest possible recommendation for late-night headphone immersion. All the above info was taken from this great article.