Pauline Anna Strom - Trans-Millenia Music
This week I have been listening to the immensely moving record from this artist - completely new to me.
RVNG Intl. have released an album from synth pioneer Pauline Anna Strom - a selection from her extraordinary records and cassettes from the 1980s.
Given the cosmic, futuristic leanings of the instrumentation, coupled with the classical, film-score motifs in tracks like Morning Splendor and Gossamer Silk, it’s understandable that many have pointed out the sense of timelessness to Strom’s work. But the notion of time seems to stretch even beyond this collection’s sonic parameters. Trans-Millenia Music feels like a body of work completely distant from a need to be placed in a contemporary context. It’s not in the least bit dated, but neither does it feel under any pressure to pave a way for future trends. Each glimmering, ascending pattern instead seems to rise above its listener, beckoning you to just be present with it. In its remarkable, honest and human embrace of both the futuristic and the classical, Strom’s music transcends and pervades the present. It takes you into a space where there is no nostalgia for the past, no anxiousness for the future, only the present company of sound and the lived experience of it.
Freedom at the 45th floor, In Flight Suspension and Cruising Altitude 36,000 Feet are blissful, all cascading and beaming arpeggios moving with gyroscopic hypnotism. Elsewhere, Warriors of the Sun and Gossamer Silk feel like ancestral, spiritual calls repurposed for a plane of experience where there is only music and the majesty it holds.
Rain on Ancient Keys and Spacial Spectre are haunting, moody ventures into something altogether more mysterious and unknowable, suggesting an understanding of the sonic plane that is perhaps enhanced for someone who is deprived of sight.
It doesn’t all necessarily work. Mushroom Trip, feels like a queasy experience of its namesake, floating somewhere in between playful and seasick. Bonsai Tree, while an interesting example of one of the collection’s few percussive moments, doesn’t slot into the flow of the album - it feels unwieldy, the wrong type of disorienting.
But Trans-Millenia Music is nonetheless a wonderful collection. As the yelped vocal and theremin-like melodies of Virgin Ice and the balearic pace of Energies course their way through your mind and body, it’s hard not to feel like she will soon claim a place as a true legend of experimental electronic music.
While this music cannot predict the future or return us to the past, it seems to understand them both. And in doing so, Trans-Millenia Music brings a sort of ease to the experience of right now. More than three decades on, it seems there’s still no time like the present.