The X (Chromosome) Factor

The ambient music world is peopled with a wide variety of artists, making music all over the world. With differing focuses on gear, techniques, and sensibilities, the range of expression is vast.

Of those many varied artists, we don’t hear often enough about the women… the X (chromosome) Factor, if you will. As someone said to me recently, however: It’s not a matter of quality, but of exposure. There are more women electronic artists than you might imagine, and today we sample some of their work.

And here’s a highly relevant article: “‘Woman’ is not a genre of music”:

Hour 1:
Non Zero – Dawn Tuesday (2015)

Dawn Tuesday is an Alaskan Native, a music producer and visionary artist creating atmospheric sound design. Growing up she was surrounded by music of all kinds, and discovered electronic music in 1992. The rest, as they say, is history.

Prufrock’s Lament – SOUNDICIAN – Verses (2016)

SOUNDICIAN is UK artist Odette Johnson, winner of the Best Electronic Album (2004) for Seven Sisters and Nominated in 2006 for Memorophilia in the ZMR Music Awards. From the first release in 2000 to the present, SOUNDICIAN continues to produce evolving soundscapes – an eclectic mix of lush melodic electronic music with a touch of ambient / space.

In January 2015, SOUNDICIAN released the album ‘Wise Trees’, a sonic interpretation of the poem ‘The Winter Trees’ by William Carlos Williams and dedicated to my Mother, who instilled in me a love of nature.

Just over a year later, here is Verses, in some ways a companion piece to ‘Wise Trees’. It is primarily dedicated to my Father, who had a great love of poetry and believed that it should be read and spoken aloud.

His love of the written and spoken word has left a deep impression, hence Verses – Music based on some of his favourite poems or by his favourite poets.
Snakeroot – Lis Addison – Saving Cecil’s Pride (2015)
When Cecil the Lion was killed a few years ago, RadHaus put out a call to artist for tracks they could contribute to help fund wildlife conservation. Saving Cecil’s Pride was the result; this compilation is a delicious mix of ambient, new age, world beat, and experimental music

After The Rain – Cousin Silas & Gypsy Witch – Silas & Friends | Volume 6 (in production for release 2017)

Cousin Silas is a prolific ambient artist whose work is heard all over the world. One of the fun things he frequently does is put together compilations/collaborations with multiple ambient artists. In this case, the collaborator was Gypsy Witch, also a host on Radio Spiral and a new addition to the pantheon of ambient artists (she fought kicking and screaming, but has of course turned out some very high quality tracks!).

Hour 2:

Night Fears – Altocumulus – Household Apocalypse (2008)

Digging into the darkness this hour with a track from a longstanding friend of the Radio Spiral denizens, Altocumulus has been creating high quality experimental electronic music for quite some time. Here are the liner notes from her Household Apocalypse:

What if an artist that previously released one of the more fabulous experimental albums done on the Buchla 100 system from the Brandeis University would take a trip in a time capsule and use all anewed tools of the day and chooses to build a brand new album made from sounds of ordinary household equipment? Well; remember the ‘My name is Marieta Cashman‘ album here on JNN? Altocumulus takes control again 40 years later!

HOUSEHOLD APOCALYPSE is made from the sounds that come through my window and up through the stairwell. It is also made from sounds of household objects used as percussion or drones: ceiling fans, struck pot lids and stroked springs, crunched paper bag, rain in the gutter, shaken metal cans, clinking glass jars; whatever is at hand in my dwelling. All these were recorded on a Zoom H2 digital microphone and then imported and processed in Macintosh’s ‘GarageBand’ digital audio workstation/synthesizer. I then added synthesized sounds from GarageBand to accompany the household sounds, playing on a MIDI keyboard.

2. NIGHT FEARS: Wall clock, GarageBand synthesizer

Children Of The Famine – Candy L – My Blood Across The Sea (2016)

Candy L is a versatile and prolific electronic artist whose works range from mellow ambient to EDM and beyond. Hailing from the US, she employs live instrumentation with electronics to create music that crosses genres. She hosts several radio shows and curates the Studio 4632 Net Label.

The creation of ‘My Blood Across The Sea’ album has been a very personal creative journey for me. Having heard first hand, as a child, numerous accounts of the terrible treatment given Irish immigrants in America, learning the truth about my Irish ancestry became a passion with me. The end result, the culmination, is this album.

We, as a planet, are faced with the largest immigrant population issues we have ever, collectively, faced. When I look back on the sometimes terrifying plight of our immigrants from the past, my grandparents included, I find great sympathy and empathy for the immigrants of today. Amid our fears of what negatives might arise, we must remember that immigrants are human beings. When we let our fear supersede our intelligence and humanity, humankind loses. Especially the already lost factions of our people; those without a home; those without a country.

The album begins with ‘Children Of The Famine’, the reason behind the mass immigration of the Irish to America, the great famine. Millions of Irish lost their lives to the famine. Many were children.

Many of those that were fortunate to make it out of Ireland were lost on the long voyage over…

Sacred Grove – Antara Annemarie Borg – Unreleased Tracks

Antara Annemarie Borg is a composer, singer, writer, tutor, visual artist and environmentalist. Her musical style encompasses what she calls  Post Ambient Acousmatic and she often creates live music inspired by nature.

The First Dream – Carolyn Fok – Biography: Raymond Scott (2016)

Born in 1908, Raymond Scott is the most famous American composer, inventor, innovator and visionary people didn’t know they knew. From his near ubiquitous cartoon music, to his electronic instruments before their time. It took 50 years for the world to catch up with his ideas that are so prevalent in popular music today. Unfortunately, Raymond Scott left us in 1994 before he had a chance to hear the future he envisioned.

Aural Films reached out to audio and video artists from around the world to create their very own tribute to Raymond Scott’s legacy and the many great things that were brought to life by Manhattan Research Inc. The response was hugely positive resulting in over 57 artists creating original tracks, and a video by Saul Wes, that pay tribute to Scott.

The Raymond Scott Biography project has the support of Reckless Night LLC, the trust that oversees Scott’s library and ongoing legacy. With this, the project’s music will be added to the Raymond Scott Library.

A Warm and Glittering Look – Lucette Bourdin – Golden Sun (2009)

What program highlighting women in ambient music would be complete without representation from the late, very great Lucette Bourdin? She crossed the rainbow bridge in February of 2011, and in the time running up to that bridge-crossing, she created volumes of music as her legacy.

After a long transformational and creative journey with breast cancer Lucette made her transition into the Light at 10:40 p.m. on February 17th 2011. She will be remembered for her kindness, her art and her music. Her music was especially the product of her transformation through cancer. When diagnosed she said of her desire to create music, “if not now, when?”.

Hour 3:

A Quiet Light – Meg Bowles – A Quiet Light (2011)

Classically trained composer-synthesist Meg Bowles has been well known for her ambient orchestral soundscapes for over 20 years. We are delighted to add her to the Radio Spiral pantheon of ambient artists.

What Clouds Know – Sylvie Walder and Phillip Wilkerson – Transience (2008)

Collaborations between well established ambient artists are usually the source of amazing new music, novel creative directions, and most importantly, good fun. This new album entitled “Transience”, a refreshing collaboration between Phillip Wilkerson and Sylvie Walder, accomplishes all of that, and then some. Combining Wilkerson’s refined ambient aesthetic with Walder’s beautiful and evocative field recordings, we feel this album is nothing short of revelatory.

Folks, this is some of the most innovative new ambient music we’ve heard in awhile. With all of the restrained elegance of an Eno recording, but also with the pushing of boundaries of a Robert Rich album, and combined with the fresh air of wide ranging field recordings, this is truly a superb release, one of our favorites of 2008.

Escape to Rhylos – VÆRNA and Head Joint – Way of the Stars (2015)

The Last Native Speaker – Tim Walters and Emily Bezar – Unreleased (2009)

This beautiful track, a collaboration between electronic artist Tim Walters and singer Emily Bezar, is an exploration of the human voice and the expert manipulation thereof. Some listeners may find it difficult to listen to, but that’s part of its beauty: art is meant to evoke a response, not always pleasant.

Dance Inside My Chest Instrumental – Magnetic Wind – Sounds of Rumi Vol. 1 (2010)

Working in original composition, Magnetic Wind employs soft synths, melodies along with pianos, world percussion, soft voice effects, field recordings and experimentation with organic instrumentation to create arrangements with a cinematic depth. She has been featured on public, college and internet radio around the world. Inspired by the Sufi poet Rumi, the tracks of Sounds of Rumi are the sounds of infinite love of the Divine.

Arctic Sunrise – Kerani – Arctic Sunrise (2014)

From the darkness back up into the light with the last track of today’s program, the title track from ambient/new age artist Kerani brings us Arctic Sunrise, which won the 11th ZMR awards in 2014 for Best Neo-Classical Album. Suggestive of a cinematic landscape, the album comprises majestic, delicate, surprising and truly beautiful pieces performed on piano and a host of orchestral instruments.

3 thoughts on “The X (Chromosome) Factor

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:
    There really are more women creating Ambient music than are given credit, so again, thanks and kudos to At Water’s Edge for showing the creativity out there – if you look.

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