Angel Tears in Sunlight is Pauline Anna Strom’s first album in over thirty years; an assemblage of music that refracts the expansiveness, and minutiae, of imagined realms while embracing the kaleidoscopic echoes of our distant epochs.
The capacity to collapse time might elucidate the enigma of Pauline Anna Strom. A mystic force in music, emerging during the dawn of new age as the Trans-Millenia Consort, the pioneering synthesist channelled primordial energies into future-facing sound through a series of full-length releases between 1982 and 1988. Little was known about her, except by a constellation of devoted followers who saw a unique legacy forming amidst the (mostly male) synthesist canon of the time.
Following the 2017 release of Trans-Millenia Music, an anthology revitalizing the most evocative parts of Strom’s catalog, the Bay Area visionary sensed the universe telling her to return to music. As with her work in the 80s, Angel Tears in Sunlight was composed and recorded in the same San Francisco apartment where Strom has lived for almost four decades in synthesis with her machines and “dinosaurs.” Populated by a compact array of modern instruments that streamline the sound of her analog past and her beloved iguanas, Little Soulstice and Ms Huff, the terrarium of her home forms an intimate yet limitless ecosystem that defies the constraints of the outside world.
Within this sanctuary, Strom becomes lost in time, drawing on the ancient energies of her inner visions. Her hardware forms the crux of translating these ideas into sound. “It’s the only way this stuff can be pulled out of myself, the universe, Little Soulstice, an ammonite…,” Strom notes. “It couldn’t be done without this machinery, because there’s no other way to draw and capture these frequencies into sonic interpretation.”
Strom’s process of recording transient live-takes enriches the mystery of her work. She renders the machinery a composer itself, a cohabitation with a living other. “Many musicians wouldn’t go that far because of ego,” Strom muses. “The equipment has to become part of you and your creativity. That’s how I think it all comes together.” Music-making becomes a harmonic language of intuition with an instrument, where Strom cultivates sound for a harvest that defies season.
Shaped by circadian contours, Angel Tears in Sunlight is a celestial observatory of earthborn phonic mosaics. Strom uncovers a symbiosis between hardware frequencies and apparitions of nature in the record’s arena of organic tones, emulating the melodic pulses of primeval terrain. The album transcends both shadow and light, falling to hushed stretches of sound as if not to awaken antediluvian animals, before soaring through the treetops where ancient skies peer over reptilian traffic and unsparing rains.
Where Angel Tears in Sunlight opens a new passage in the transportive power of Strom’s work, the synthesist also nurtures space for restorative listening. During her absence from composing, Strom turned to a practice of spiritual healing, which she recognizes to have deepened her understanding of music as “the connective link between the source and us.”