Otherworldly and anomalous, hushed and hallucinatory, Pauline Anna Strom's unique style of inner space music reaches across time to futures and pasts far from our own. Trans-Millenia Music compiles eighty minutes of Strom’s most evocative work, composed and recorded between 1982 and 1988, for the first authorized overview of the enigmatic Bay Area composer.
Pauline Anna Strom introduced her music to the world in 1982 with Trans-Millenia Consort, a collection of transportive synthesizer music providing listeners a vessel to break beyond temporal limits into a world of pulsing, mercurial tonalities and charged, embryonic waveforms. Strom's solicitation into the unknown continued through a half dozen more stellar releases during the decade, which, despite their singularity and mastery, slipped into the more obscure annals of want lists and bootleg editions.
Though Strom's work developed during the dawn of San Francisco’s influential new age and ambient scenes, her music remains non-programmatic, an adventurous tangent diverting from the era’s ideological tropes. The artist’s own path to creative maturation was atypical. Raised by her Catholic family in Louisiana and Kentucky, she was tragically deprived of sight due to complications from a premature birth. This impairment would sensitize her to listenable worlds with great acuity and creative engagement, the loss becoming a formative aspect of Strom’s spiritualist take on the power of music.
Recalling her youth, Strom says she was "a loner and heretic." Seeking solace and solidarity, she moved to the mecca of California’s counter culture with her husband, a G.I., who was assigned duty in the Bay Area during the decline of the Vietnam War. Having dabbled with piano as a teen, Pauline’s passion for music reignited when synthesizers became central to the serene scene of San Fran FM radio in the mid-70s. Inspired by the electronic music of the instrument’s early ambassadors (Klaus Schulze, Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream), Strom purchased a Tascam 4-track recorder and a small array of synths (Yamaha DX7, TX816, CS-10) to navigate her own universe of space music.
As she gained confidence to share her creations beyond the walls of the apartment where she meticulously crafted under headphones day and night, Strom took on the artistic identity of the ‘consort,’ spiriting listeners through epochs described by her evocative musical passages. From this moment and represented within Trans-Millenia Music, Strom proves to be a delicate melodist and meticulous colorist, as well as a sound designer of great drama and inspired energy. The celestial sounds evoke the uncertainty of pre-physical and primordial elements, creating an impression of a world beyond access that Strom has always felt was hers. In the collection’s liner notes Strom recounts, “I have always been in touch with the past more than the present.”
Apart from its mysteries, Strom’s curiosity for the non-present was also suffused with a social bent. She believed that humanity was confined by its inability to access the people of the future, therefore suffering in a kind of group solipsism. Designing a world of music that rooted itself in all times but the present, Strom’s alter ego, the Trans-Millenia Consort, became a musical activist for triggering this state of heightened consciousness.
Exemplary passages highlighted in Trans-Millenia Music were selected from the three full-lengths originally issued on vinyl in addition to a group of four full-lengths self-released on cassette. This substantive body of work challenges the canonization of new age and ambient music as one-size-fits-all categories. Strom's music induces a dynamic range of listening that captivates and intrigues, a cinematic experience rather than a meditation for passive listening.
Out now on RVNG Intl.