Suzanne Ciani - Music For Denali LP
Label: Finders Keepers
Release Date: October 9th, 2020
Finders Keepers' continued and unwaning commitment to preserving the archives of composer Suzanne Ciani pays off in an avalanche of dividends with this latest master tape discovery, placing further markers in the historical development of electronic music and cinematic composition. Developed at a lesser-documented axis combining Ciani's key disciplines as a revolutionary synthesist and an accomplished pianist, these early works from 1973 capture a rare glimpse of one of the world's most important electronic music figures embarking on the early throes of a fruitful career as a film composer and sound designer with this rare and previously unheard documentary music illustrating the first-ever skiers' decent from the peak of the tallest mountain in Alaska.
Capturing innocence and optimism in its composition, but never less than masterful in its realization, Denali takes what would later become the yin and yang in Ciani's versatile musical personality and provides unrivalled vistas from both side of the mountain, scaling a treacherous and fine creative line. The music on this record was also commissioned two years before Suzanne's first Buchla concerts in 1974 and 1975, which were accompanied by her seminal National Endowment Paper, and would reveal Suzanne's proud commitment to the developed Buchla instrument. After hearing this record, it will come as little surprise that the track known as "Ski Song" would later be re-appropriated (and rerecorded) on Ciani's globally critically acclaimed debut album Seven Waves. It stands as testimony to the composer's determination and inventive nature that this single track, which would later make its way on to every future music best-seller list in the country, was originally composed on just piano and the modular synth model which she had helped to assemble on Buchla's production line ten years before her Tokyo debut. "Denali was composed using just Buchla and piano," explains Suzanne in 2020. "It was recorded at Rainbow Recording, which is the studio I found and shared with recording engineer Richard Beggs, who then sold it to Francis Ford Coppola after I fell in love and quickly moved to LA," she laments. Instead, Suzanne would in a short time find her filmic feet in Hollywood (providing sound design for Michael Small's aforementioned The Stepford Wives soundtrack) which would later lead to her winning the accolade of first female film composer to single-handedly record a major motion picture with The Incredible Shrinking Woman in 1982. But it was ten years earlier with Denali that the ball had started rolling alongside the film reel sprockets at Rainbow Recordings.