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Sisters with Transistors (2021) movie review

A crash course on how women have often pioneered the unknown frontier still defined by the names of men such as John Carpenter and Edgar Froese, “Sisters with Transistors” features ten such incredible women – Clara Rockmore, Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram, Eliane Radigue, Bebe Barron, Pauline Oliveros, Maryanne Amacher, Wendy Carlos, Suzanne Ciani and Laurie Spiegel – using archival footage and audio to tell the fascinating tales of how they influenced what is today hui one of the most popular musical mediums, accompanied by narration by artist and composer Laurie Anderson. It’s a story about revolt, freedom, and the establishment of new cultures and languages ​​in a world with strict rules on how things are done, especially when it comes to women.

The story, which is wonderfully told through a sort of archival collage that, together with the futuristic soundtrack of the streamlined composers, gives the impression of being an avant-garde art film. It explores its stars chronologically and tells how they have changed musical culture in terms of not only language but also technology, which itself has opened up a range of new avenues without needing the approval of others, again. , mostly men. What’s interesting is that many of the profiled women came from mainstream backgrounds. Oram is a prime example, having turned down a place at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London so that he could work at the legendary BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and ultimately build a proto-synthesizer that used a bespoke notation system called “Oramics”.

Additional commentary is provided by Holly Herndon, Jean-Michel Jarre and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, the latter talking about visiting Maryanne Amacher’s “vibrant” house with wall-to-wall equipment on footage of Thurston Moore awkwardly covering himself up. ears. while the composer hits a keyboard like a possessed woman. Commentaries and interviews are wonderfully audio-only, meaning the visual attention is kept on the women. Much of the footage shown is from older sources, with only Radigue, Spiegel, and Ciani captured in the present, but there is some fun footage where Rovner took vintage dance scenes and layered them with those pieces from before. -garde, with the unusual juxtaposition of those shiny faces of American teens leaping over synthesized bubbles and echoing drones.

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