It’s rare that a particular brand of instrument becomes associated with a musician. When it does, it tends to be in rock music. Jimi Hendrix and the Fender Stratocaster or Paul McCartney and the Höfner bass guitar, for example.
In electronic music, this close emotional identification between synthesiser and artist is less common. Suzanne Ciani is one of those people and her instrument, of which she is a virtuoso, is the Buchla. Her system, built up over several years in the 1970s, was her bread and butter for the whole of that decade and beyond. In 1974, she hauled it from the US West Coast to New York. She didn’t bother with her other belongings when she relocated, just her Buchla. And when it broke down and part of it was stolen, part of her went missing too.
The Buchla meant more to Ciani than just an instrument, even if it did offer its users endless possibilities in sound creation. For her, it was an escape route, a ticket out of the world of classical music, where she had been belittled and blocked because she was a woman. The Buchla enabled her to take control of her own destiny. That’s quite an achievement for a bunch of circuit boards, but such is the power of electronic music. Suzanne Ciani’s story, which she shares with us in this issue, spans decades and has a happy outcome.
Elsewhere this month, we pay tribute to Florian Schneider, the sonic perfectionist at the heart of Kraftwerk for 40 years, who sadly died in April. We also take a journey through four decades of Blancmange with Neil Arthur, who guides us through some of the kit they used in the early days of the band, while LA Priest introduces us to his handmade drum machine, GENE. We talk to Nightmares On Wax's George Evelyn about the making of ‘Smokers Delight’ too and we have an extract from ‘Listening To The Wind’, a new book in which the author undertook an international road trip to discover the joys of the independent record label.
Plus Daniel Miller, Martyn Ware, John Foxx and Andy McCluskey paying tribute to the sadly departed uber legend Florian Schneider of Kraftwerk. As if that wasn't enough to frazzle your mind circuits, there's also pages of this pure quality magazine featuring interviews with the likes of Sonic Boom (Spacemen 3 / Spectrum, EAR), Irmin Schmidt (Can), Nightmares On Wax, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, LA Priest and synthesizer lord and DIN bossman Ian Boddy. A belter!