In the male dominated world of electroacoustic music, one often has to venture into alternative folk territory to enjoy the voice of female musicians and so the perfect way to warm up on a freezing December night in Dalston was to catch Sharron Kraus, Tara Burke aka Fursaxa and Meg Baird sharing the bill at Cafe OTO…

Kraus, Fursaxa and Baird have all played together in different guises in the past, such as the lovely Tau Emerald, producing what has been variously labelled as acoustic psychedelia and avant-folk. At Cafe OTO, though, they played separate sets.

Joined by Nancy Wallace and Nick Palmer on guitar and bouzouki Sharron Kraus presented tales of love and loss updating the traditional British folk idiom with carefully crafted songs hinged on restraint.

Next up was Fursaxa (the name apparently is what Tara Burke’s telephone number spelled out as in a house where she used to live). Tara introduced a healthy dose of electronics into the proceedings with multiply-tracked vocals layered onto a looped and delayed sound base mixing bells and Farfisa giving a medieval and shamanistic quality to her sound.

Meg Baird rounded up the night with a generous set in which she played mostly material from her latest album Seasons on Earth coupled with a selection of covers from I don’t Wanna Talk About It, to perfectly chosen numbers by Marc Almond and Kurt Vile.

To sum up the evening I cannot think of a better way than to quote the lyrics from Meg Baird’s song Stars Climb Up The Vine.

High and insane, I walked out
I thought it all out:
No one is listening to you,
Or to me
We could just go together
And find the darkest roof/room
And find the dark
And the light too

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  1. says: Joseph

    Gianmarco, I always enjoy your pieces, and this is no exception. However, I must take issue with one sentence. Does one really HAVE “to venture into alternative folk territory to enjoy the voice of female musicians?” Grouper comes to mind. But there are a great many female artists working in electroacoustic, vocal or otherwise, who do not have anything whatsoever to do with folk. This feminization of folk, and marginalization of female contributions to electroacoustic music is problematic. I’d recommend checking out the site Pink Noises, and the collected book, for interviews with luminaries like Pauline Oliveros, Eliane Radigue and other non-vocalists, as well as vocalists such as AGF and Pamela Z.

  2. says: Gianmarco

    Hi Joseph, you are right, there many great female artists in electroacoustic. Also, I would like to add the names of Teresa Rampazzi and Franca Sacchi to the list of early electronic luminaries. It was not my intention to marginalise anyone. On the contrary, when I started my Postcards from Italy series, I searched high and low for Italian based female electro-acoustic musicians and found just one. This is not strictly true, I am now hoping to get Barbara De Dominicis (who’s recorded an album with Julia Kent out soon on Baskaru) to take part on a future postcard. My frustration, though, led to my somewhat provocative statement.

  3. Yes, we are indebted to Die Schatel for re-issuing such records. Last year, I curated a compilation of Italian experimental artists, and sadly I think the only woman on it wasn’t italian (she lent vocals to a Port-Royal song.) I’d also add BeMyDelay (Marcella Riccadi) to that list, though again she is a vocalist. I think this has to do, in part, with the fact that women, in the US and Italy and many other places, women are not encouraged to engage with technology, and that women are pushed towards forms of expression, musical or otherwise, that are more explicitly embodied. This past summer I attended Tago Fest in Marina di Massa, where BeMyDelay played, and saw a duo called Rage Against the Sewing Machine, an interesting feminist concept but the actual output (Noise) was clearly intended as farcical. Perhaps it doesn’t matter. In any case, thanks for the tip on De Dominicis, and looking forward to future Post Cards.

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