Ruth Anderson - Here LP
Label: Arc Light Editions
Jennifer Lucy Allan's Arc Light Editions releases Here, the debut album by little known electronic and tape music composer Ruth Anderson (1928-2019) who died just before she was able to see her first solo release out in the world. Here reinserts Ruth Anderson as a trailblazer in the history of electronic music in the USA. Here gathers microtonal electronics, drone, and meditative long-form works and a mischievous plunderphonic collage into an album that is playful, meditative, and bold in its minimalist approach to sound. In an article written by her partner, the composer Annea Lockwood, Ruth describes her music "evolved from an understanding of sound as energy which affects one's state of being. [These are] pieces intended to further wholeness of self and unity with others."
"Pregnant Dream" is a collaboration with poet May Swenson. "Points" is constructed from pure sine waves, a veil of microtonal sound intended as a healing piece that generates quiet energy. "So What" hovers in electroacoustic space, and crescendos in oscillations and phasing. The playful proto-plunderphonics of "SUM (State of the Union Message)" is constructed from sounds sampled from TV commercials, made one January while Anderson was waiting for a studio to become free, offers tongue-in-cheek resistance to politics and communication as pertinent today as then. Her intention with "SUM" became "to say as little, and by omission, as much as the President (Nixon) would in his address." The restful and meditative "I Come Out Of Your Sleep," constructed from the speech vowels in Louise Bogan's poem "Little Lobelia," is a deeply calming and mindful piece. Anderson intended the shape of the vowels to become breathy melodic arcs and tones, which becomes the core of a stylized meditation.
Anderson was born in Montana in 1928, and originally trained as a flautist and composer studying with Darius Milhaud and Nadia Boulanger in Paris. She was the first woman to be admitted to Princeton University Graduate School in the early 1960s. She also worked as an orchestrator for NBC-TV and the Lincoln Center Theater production of Annie Get Your Gun with Ethel Merman (1966). After joining the faculty of Hunter College, CUNY, in 1966, she created the Hunter College Electronic Music Studio, one of the first electronic music studios in the USA to be founded and directed by a woman. She was engaged in studies of psychoacoustics, Zen Buddhism, and was a committed teacher. She retired from Hunter College in 1989. Ruth Anderson died on November 29th, 2019, aged 91, just after approving test pressings for Here.