Boomkat Product Review:
Hallucinatory 1984 synth beauty by blind new age synth pioneer Pauline Anna Strom, expressing her vibrant imagination and readings of mythology on a prototypical pearl of the genre subsequently explored by everyone from Rex Ilusivii to Laszlo Hortobagyi, Oneohtrix Point Never to Emeralds.
The 3rd album by late West Coast medium/healer/composer Pauline Anna Strom receives its first reissue on occasion of its 40th anniversary, placing back into circulation a totemic vision of synth music. Suitably titled for its illusive, iridescent qualities, ’Spectre’ is a lodestar of Strom’s singular nebula, arriving in the glistening wake of 2017 retrospective ‘Trans-Millenia Music’ and posthumous issues of more recent work with a plunge into her glorious gothic fantasias, where vampire lore informs richly synaesthetic audio-visual projections of her imagination. There’s a properly compelling sense of wonder to Strom’s work here, which appears to sharpen up the languorous shapes of her preceding sides into equally sensuous yet finer depictions of the soundscapes and themes of her mind eye’s.
Now brought into greater focus by Marta Salogni’s remastering, ‘Spectre’ yields a gorgeous 45 minutes in Strom’s otherworld that has hitherto remained the preserve of collectors hipped to her sound beyond sight. It plays out like the fiction that inspired her, with track titles and a keen, if abstract, narrative that pulls one right into her imaginary plane. The plonging arps and banshee synth voices of ‘Tenement Stairwell’ induces a vertiginous sense of mystery from the outset that diffuses into Vangelisian low end brass scaping on ‘Spatial Spectre’ and echoes vintage horror scores in the pulsating organs of ‘Blood Thirst’, with a killer stroke of slow motion Cluster-esque pastoralism offset by eerie calls from the shadows on ‘Virgin Ice’, giving way to scalp tingling synthy déjà entendu in ‘Blood Celebrants’, and scaling up to the towering perspective of ‘Freedom at the 45th Floor’.
“As for Spectre, the welding of mysterious vampire legends, modern violence and desolateness of which produces a cobalt mix of subtle gothic chills, fulfilled its purpose with a whispered gloss of steel. The sounds were culled from concrete, glass and steel, from cold arctic temperatures and elusive spacious voices” - Pauline Anna Strom”