Patrick Cowley & Candida Royalle – Candida Cosmica EP
Shimmering (Where Am I?)
Patrick Cowley is an electronic music trailblazer and a revolutionary in the canon of disco music. He created his an original brand of Hi-NRG dance music, “The San Francisco Sound.” Born in Buffalo, NY Patrick moved to San Francisco in 1971 at the age of 21. He studied at the City College of San Francisco where he founded the Electronic Music Lab. During this time, Patrick, along with his classmates Maurice Tani and Art Adcock, would create electronic pieces using the school’s equipment: first a Putney, then an E-MU System, and finally a Serge synthesizer. The Lab was interested in creating sounds that mimicked nature, like drops or birds, and also very unnatural sounds unattainable any other way. Patrick was a young alchemist discovering new elements all around him. He would layer experimental soundtracks by blending various types of music and adapting them to the synthesizer.
In 1972 Patrick was living in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood with some friends from back east. Through these roommates he met Candice Vadalla, a singer, actress and art student from Queens, NY. Candice would later take the stage name Candida Royalle becoming a pornographic film actress, a producer and director of feminist erotic films, and a sex educator actress before passing away on September 7, 2015. Candice was performing in shows with Cockettes splinter troupe The Angels of Light as well as performance projects Warped Floors and White Trash Boom Boom she formed with friends. Patrick arranged, embellished and recorded music pieces for these theatrical performances in his bedroom studio. Candice, meanwhile, played both musical muse and sex goddess to Patrick. Playfully enamored with each other, the pair became occasional lovers, the sexual energy fueling their musical collaborations and improvisations. In the collection of pieces compiled here, Candice’s sweet, melodic and playful voice hints at the more public persona she would cultivate as Candida Royalle. Influenced by Tomita and Wendy Carlos, Patrick crafted his electronic sound from synthesizers (Serge modular, Electrocomp system, Arp 2600), percussion, modified guitars, and hand-built equipment. Candice’s multi-octave range chirps, soars, and growls, going into operatic staccato runs a la Yma Sumac and ‘Illuminations’ era Buffy Sainte-Marie. The vocals add an organic, human element and at times lyrics can be deciphered such as in alchemic adaptation of the Latin hymn “Tantum Ergo.” As a bonus included is the sultry, jazzy “Tomato Song” that Candice sang a capella for the Angels of Light ‘Kitsch-On Show’ in 1973.
Featuring over 30 minutes of music recorded between 1973-75 found on tapes in Maurice Tani’s attic. All songs have been remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios. The jacket features an alluring photo of Candida seductively sprawled with a broken Virgin Mary statue around her head, originally commissioned by Jorge Socarras for an Indoor Life single, and shot by Arne Svenson. Each copy includes a 16-page booklet with never-seen-before photos, interviews and liner notes from Patrick and Candida’s friends, roommates and musical collaborators. Released on the week of Patrick (Oct 19) and Candida’s (Oct 15) 66th birthday, “Candida Cosmica” presents a glimpse into the liberated, playful wonderland that San Francisco was at the time. These recordings shine a new light on the early experimental collaborations of a disco legend and of a feminist pioneer who were taken too soon.