It’s impossible to not consider the emotional back story to Pauline Anna Strom’s Angel Tears in Sunlight as you hit play. Whilst this new album contains the first new music Strom has released in 30 years, the whole project was rendered tragic by her sudden passing, at the very end of last year.
Whilst Strom was born blind, the electronic music she made in the ‘80s are nothing short of visionary. Her music sumptuously fleshed out an inner world of pattern and brain synapses, as well as ancient civilisations, all blending into something with far more gravity than just new age drift.
2017’s compilation Trans-Millenia Music, released on New York’s RVNG label revisited the work she made during this era. This vast collection, instantly cementing her work as historically important whilst also allowing it to seamlessly mesh with more contemporary artists working in similar areas.
In fact, after Strom seemingly being exploited by various labels early on, RVNG wanted to help guide her into the spotlight, and the adulation she so richly deserved. The next logical step was to invite her to make new music…
Angel Tears in Sunlight was composed, built and played on the same array of equipment as her previous work. Despite that nagging doubt that a 30-year gap might make it difficult to recapture the magic, the thought is cancelled within moments.
Whilst tracks like Tropical Convergence, Equatorial Sunrise and Tropical Rainforest all describe a kind of neon dipped jungle paradise, the album delves far more into surprising new voids. Marking Time pans around like each note continually morphing into some cubist fantasy. The Pulsation slips into a heat stoked delirium as its bounces and reflections ping pong like mercury.
The Eighteen Beautiful Memories feels like even more beautiful reimagining of Edgar Froese’s Epsilon in Malaysian Pale. It’s impossible not to imagine Strom blissed out in this zone with her beloved iguana companions, she held so dear. The track lasts 4 minutes but feels like a droplet of the infinite.
Angels Tears in Sunlight is an achingly beautiful release. Given the quality of her art and her labels support, it’s hard to not dream of another volume of the FRKWYS collaborative series, or simply time for more music. This, however, completes a small but immaculate discography.
The album title frames the whole project, a prismatic impossible type of beauty, a diamond.
RIP Pauline Anna Strom 1946 – 2020
Angel Tears in Sunlight is out now on RVNG, a portion of the proceeds from this release will benefit The International Iguana Foundation, a non-profit organisation supporting conservation, awareness, and scientific programs that enhance the survival of wild iguanas and their habitats. iguanafoundation.org