[ALE011] RUTH ANDERSON - HERE LP [ARC LIGHT EDITIONS]
DIGITAL STRATEGY & PRESS
Jennifer Lucy Allan’s Arc Light Editions releases Here, the debut album by little known electronic and tape music composer Ruth Anderson (1928-2019) who died just before she was able to see her first solo release out in the world. Here reinserts Ruth Anderson
as a trailblazer in the history of electronic music in the USA, as one of the first women to set up an electronic music studio. Here gathers microtonal electronics, drone and meditative long-form works and a mischievous plunderphonic collage into an album that is playful, meditative and bold in its minimalist approach to sound.
Ruth Anderson's work is often stripping back to the basic building blocks of sound, speech, or poetry. In an article written by her partner, the composer Annea Lockwood, Ruth describes her music “evolved from an understanding of sound as energy which affects one’s state of being. [These are] pieces intended to further wholeness of self and unity with others.”
Anderson was born in Montana in 1928 and originally trained as a flautist and composer, studying with Darius Milhaud and Nadia Boulanger in Paris on Fulbright scholarships, and was the first woman to be admitted to Princeton University Graduate School in the early 1960s. She also worked as an orchestrator for NBC-TV and the Lincoln Center Theater production of Annie Get Your Gun with Ethel Merman (1966). After joining the faculty of Hunter College, CUNY, in 1966, created its Electronic Music Studio. She was engaged in studies of psychoacoustics, Zen Buddhism, and was a committed teacher. She remained at Hunter teaching composition and music theory until her retirement in 1989.
Photography: Manny Albam
As Louise Gray writes in her sleevenotes to Here: “That it is released now, in 2020, to a musician born in 1928 and who has had an active musical and compositional life, certainly since the 1950s, is a cause for celebration as well as for some dismay.” “Pregnant Dream” is a collaboration with poet May Swenson (whose poem of the same name is reproduced on the inner sleeve). “Points” is
constructed from pure sine waves, a veil of microtonal sound intended as a healing piece that generates quiet energy. “So What” hovers in electroacoustic space, and crescendos in oscillations and phasing.
The playful proto-plunderphonics of “SUM (State of the Union Message)” is constructed from sounds sampled from TV commercials, made one January while Anderson was waiting for a studio to become free, offers tongue-in-cheek resistance to politics and communication as pertinent today as then. She wrote that her intention with "SUM" became “to say as little, and by omission, as much as the President (Nixon) would in his address.”
Arc Light Editions reissues previously unknown essentials. It is curated and run by BBC's Late Junction host Jennifer Lucy Allan, with Emptyset's James Ginzburg.
"Arc Light Editions is a canon of sorts, that is made up of crucial, critical and sensitive music; of music made by the headstrong and determined; music of vision and transcendence, and it is a canon that is always affordable.
The label was born from a frustration with the reissues market, which around the mid-2010s had peaked in deluxe packaging with inaccessible prices. Instead of moaning, James suggested we start a label All Arc Light releases are sounds that on first listen set my head spinning, records that sounded like nothing else. They are records I wanted to tell everyone about, records I wanted to buy but couldn’t afford, and records that needed greater recognition.
Arc Light Editions is an incomplete archive, and the artwork, on recycled kraft liner card, reflects this. We work at our own pace. We remake contracts. We wait. We listen." - Jennifer Lucy Allan.
March 6. 2020
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Ruth Anderson's "Here" is available on