Under the pseudonym of Grouper, musician Liz Harris creates mysterious, multi-layered sonic landscapes. On her 10th studio album, Ruins (which debuted on Kranky Records at the end of October), Harris’ voice floats delicately above a mass of sounds: twinkling piano notes and low-octave synth drone and swarm like a hive of busy bees
In the week I spent sprinting between shows at SXSW last month, Brooklyn electronic R&B duo denitia and sene’s performance stood out. I reveled in the band’s moody, sexy electronic sounds that weave in warm human voices.
“There’s a coldness even in the name of our band to sort of balance the fact that we are going to pour our hearts into it. The whole thing is protection,” says Emily Haines, the singer and songwriter behind Metric, as we spoke just as she was prepping to leave on the electro-harmony band’s latest tour. “You know we can’t be called, like, The Hugs. Although that might be closer to the actual spirit of the four people that are in the band.”
The history of electronic music arguably starts with the patenting of the theremin in 1928, and Clara Rockmore was there from its inception to champion the instrument as both an important technological and artistic advancement. This mix highlights the brilliant, creative women who make (and made) electronic music and their innovations in techniques, programs, and tools to make new sounds possible. Best with headphones.
Women have always been involved in electronic music: behind the scenes producing, as musicians and vocalists, voices being sampled, as djs and dancers. But women's contributions have, as in just about all forms of cultural life, been excluded from the official record, relegated to the marginal, the exception. Read on to see what I'm going to be talking about over the next eight weeks.