Boomkat Product Review:
Cult computer music pioneer Maggi Payne’s isolationist suite ‘Arctic Winds’ is given its first vinyl pressing. An immensely immersive set fashioned from location recordings, the sounds of dry ice, space transmissions, BART trains and poor plumbing, ‘Arctic Winds’ is a serious treat for the keenest deep listeners.
Comparable with the starkest isolationist work by everyone from Thomas Köner to The Hafler Trio and Roland Kayn, but blessed with the tactile sensitivity we’d associate with, say, Annea Lockwood or Pauline Oliveros pieces, ‘Acrtic Winds’ is one of a small but perfectly crafted handful of examples of Payne’s work which surely stands up beside her classic ‘Crystal’ of 1986 and the prized ‘Ahh-Ahh (Music For Ed Tannenbaum’s Technological Meets 1984-1987)’ (both reissued by Aguirre) among some of the most crucial, mind-drifting electronic compositions of the past 40 years.
At this point it’s maybe worth saying we’ve had one of the most memorable acid trips ever to Maggi’s music. We won’t bore you with details, but suffice it to say that her nuanced grasp of the frequency spectrum made for an incredibly powerful experience, and we can hear that visionary early touch refined and focussed into this album, which sees her music shift away from any sort of spectacularity, no matter how subtle, to provide a sort of inside out, dematerialised perspective across the 8 durational scape of ‘Arctic Winds’.
Alas, no risk of us tripping today, but the music is pulling us close to altered states between the textural dissolve of ‘Fluid Dynamics’ and thizzing timbral conclusions arrived at in ‘Surface Tension’, which sounds like ice forming on still body of water and is likely to induce ASMR tingles.
It’s not hard to hear that this is music comes from a faithfully explorative soul who has been instrumental - both figuratively and literally - in the history of avant-garde music since her days at Mills College, where she studied with Robert Ashley and is currently co-director of its Center For Contemporary Music, to performing flute on classic works by Joanna Brouk, David Behrman and Blue Gene Tyranny.