Pink Noises by Tara Rodgers | Bleader

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pink Noises by Tara Rodgers

Posted By on 08.26.10 at 09:13 AM

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Pink Noises by Tara Rodgers
  • Pink Noises by Tara Rodgers
Ten years ago musician, scholar, and writer Tara Rodgers launched the website to address what she saw as a paucity of critical and historical writing on women in electronic music. She conducted thoughtful, detailed interviews with a wide range of artists—from academic figures like Maggi Payne and Carla Scaletti to club-music types like Susan Morabito and DJ Rekha—with an emphasis on history, aesthetics, and, to varying degrees, feminism. The project lasted until 2003, and some of the interviews are still archived online. Earlier this year she published a terrific anthology collecting 24 of them, titled Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound (Duke).

I know I read a couple of Rodgers's interviews back when the website was a going concern, so not all the material is new to me; still, it's awfully nice to have it collected conveniently between two covers. Reading about folks like Eliane Radigue, Annea Lockwood, Pauline Oliveros, Kaffe Matthews, Jessica Rylan, and Ikue Mori one after the other really helps to draw out commonalities and differences in the subjects' backgrounds and philosophies. Even when I don't much care for the artist Rodgers is talking to (I never warmed up to Le Tigre, for instance), the discussion is lively and interesting.

Tara Rodgers
  • Tara Rodgers
Rodgers clearly understands many disparate modes of music making, and sounds equally authoritative whether she's talking about elaborate programming schemes, the language of analog synthesizers, or record buying. She doesn't shy away from the occasional use of technical language, but the talks are generally clear and lucid—there's a glossary of terms too, in case anything gets past you.

I also appreciate that Rodgers refrains from establishing or even implying a hierarchy among the different musical styles and approaches represented—she groups the interviews according to themes like "Space and Perspective" and "Nature and Synthetics." In her introductory essay to the book, she takes an openly feminist perspective, discussing the lack of writing on women working in electronic music and criticizing the tendency of many authors and historians to regurgitate the same simplified timeline, dotted with same old names, all of them male (the Futurists, Cage, Stockhausen, Kraftwerk, Eno, et cetera), but in the interviews themselves she doesn't push her politics too hard. Many of Rodgers's respondents breeze right by the question of whether their gender has affected their work or whether they feel they've been treated differently because they're women.

Today's playlist:

Stabat Akish, Stabat Akish (Tzadik)
Aki Takase and Louis Sclavis, Yokohama (Intakt)
Sun Ra, The Second Stop Is Jupiter (Norton)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, Roots & Herbs (Blue Note)
Lemur, IIIIIII (+3dB)

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