Boomkat Product Review:
Vocalist-composer Sara Ayers is consistent only in her eclecticism - over the course of her career, her music has ranged from folk to punk to bubblegum to rock to electronic to ambient.
"Handcrafted in her small home studio, Ayers' music has spanned the globe. She's collaborated with such international musicians as Japanese dark ambient experimentalist Ryuta.K and the Russian electronic trio Figura. British electronica kingpins the Chemical Brothers sampled Ayers' "Everyday We Die a Little" on "Come Inside," and her EP with New Shiny Things was recently re-released on vinyl by the German label Anna Logue Records.
But it all started three decades ago... Following stints in such acclaimed bands as the Dialtones, AKA/etc., Bang Zoom and the Reno Brothers, Ayers' debut solo recording project was the all-electronic Fluorochrome, released as a limited-edition cassette-only album on Blotto Records in 1985. Drawing comparisons to Laurie Anderson, the painterly textures and poetic lyrics of this album won her fans internationally.
Fluorochrome is a one-woman project in every sense of the word. Ayers not only wrote and arranged all eight songs on the album, but also programmed and played all the instruments and sang all the vocal parts. She engineered, mixed and mastered the tape in her kitchen. She duplicated 100 copies of the tape herself, two at a time from a reel-toreel master. And she hand-painted the covers, too. "I was obsessed with creating, by myself, an intimate, perfect work of art, painting and folding each package, rather than mass-producing a commercial product," Ayers says. "The juxtaposition of cool electronic music with a hands-on, hand-made ethic really appealed to me."
In addition to the eight songs from the original cassette, the new vinyl edition of Fluorochrome includes three bonus tracks. "I Once Remembered Everything" and "The Lighthouse" are two songs from Ayers' 1995 CD, Voices. And rounding out the project is the previously unreleased "I Think of You," recorded at Albany's fabled Arabellum Studios by Art Snay in 1982 as part of a never-finished EP recording by her band AKA/etc.
After Snay died in 2012, his home/studio complex stood abandoned for years until some old friends broke into the studio one night and rescued a number of tapes more than 30 years old, including the unfinished rough mix of this song, which contains only a scratch vocal and is missing a second guitar part. Three decades later, Fluorochrome still sounds captivating, fresh and vital, nevermore so than on this new vinyl re-issue. "It's satisfying to hear synth-driven songs back again in the forefront of culture, with artists such as Grimes and Perfume Genius making music that sounds new and cutting edge," Ayers says. "When I recorded Fluorochrome, synths, and drum machines especially, were seen as a kind of flavor of the month that would never last. It's gratifying to see electropop absorbed into the continuum of modern music."