Ambient album review: Suzanne Ciani Buchla concerts 1975 @sevwave

Electronic music pioneer Suzanne Ciani never achieved the critical mass appeal of Brian Eno or Aphex Twin. Although once you listen to her album I’m sure you agree, she deserves to be up there with the greats of ambient music.

You never really hear much about female ambient music artists, it’s always men really – which is dumb. In this case, Suzanne Ciani can boast genuine claim to words like pioneering, groundbreaking, galactic, maverick and experimental.

Ambient album review: Suzanne Ciani Buchla concerts 1975 @sevwave
Suzanne Ciani in the 70’s

Listening to this an aural and esoteric journey from the 70’s, it’s a one-woman race to the proverbial moon. If there was a great soundtrack to the space race and the Cold War, then this album would be it. It sounds genuinely like nothing else on the planet. It’s like the gods of the pleiades are jostling and playing together in the heavens and only the aliens can understand it.

Suzanne and the Buchla synthesizer

Ambient album review: Suzanne Ciani Buchla concerts 1975 @sevwave
Suzanne Ciani in the 70’s

In the 70’s (then) 20 year old Suzanne was employed in San Francisco’s Buchla headquarters. The Buchla was a modular synthesizer that was historical competitor to the more popular and well-known Moog from New York. Buchla was run by a bunch of rag-tag acid-eating hippy types. And the lack of a piano keyboard controller on the Buchla made it a very experimental piece of equipment.

This meant the Buchla, both the synthesizer and the company, was destined for the far fringes of the art scene and never really made it mainstream like the Moog, which had a lot of money and marketing spend behind it.

Suzanne Ciani was one of those original champions of the Buchla who stayed true to its experimental and enigmatic roots. Ciani combined her academic education in music with real skills in composition and made a pioneering album that was (and still is) completely and utterly mind-blowing.

At the turning point of history when the machines take over and they have animated discussions together in the absense of human ears, their conversation will sound like this.

6 thoughts on “Ambient album review: Suzanne Ciani Buchla concerts 1975 @sevwave

  1. Good description of her music! Cool these archival albums are finally getting released. I’ve only listened to a small amount of Ciani’s work but enjoyed her synth-based 1982 and 1986 albums, some really nice melodies on those. I watched a doc on vimeo about Ciani called A Life in Waves (2017). If of interest, here’s my review: https://letterboxd.com/mas365/film/a-life-in-waves/

    1. This sounds like such a great documentary thanks Chris I will seek it out. The later albums from 1982 and 1986 were really great too I agree 🙂

  2. Enjoyed reading this but I’ve always had a precarious relationship with synthesisers…I always find myself mentally replacing the sounds with real instruments. ‘Galactic’ was a good descriptor though…definitely heard that in the linked track

    1. I guess this sound isn’t for everyone and that’s perhaps that’s why it’s sort of underground this music and not really made it mainstream. I don’t know why, I can hear magic in it though it transports me to another planet, I do see what you mean though 🙂

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