Pauline Oliveros is one of the greatest under-recognized composers in the American avant-garde. A compatriot of John Cage, Terry Riley and Stuart Dempster, Oliveros is a composer, performer (accordion, vocals), teacher (the University of California at San Diego, Mills College) and conceptualizer who has explored a confluence of the "classical"/Euro-American electronic music, improvisation and Eastern philosophy in her quest to redefine concepts of music and sound. To be succinct, her music has affinities with Cage (indeterminacy, the seemingly abstract "process" of performance) and Riley (cyclic rhythms and drones based in African and Indian musics). To listen to Oliveros is akin to a trance-inducing ritual, drawing the listener into an environment of sound. 'Lift,' the longer of the two pieces here, consists of sustained tones that coalesce into a hypnotic "wall of sound." Accordion, harmonium, strings (featuring proto-minimalist Tony Conrad), voice and electronics create a dense, shifting texture, creating and then getting inside extended tones and exploring them. 'Primordial' is more ebb-and-flow, with more of a tensile, confrontational bent. This album is alternately (and simultaneously) soothing and defiant, mesmerizing and challenging--and so highly recommended to fans of La Monte Young and Terry Riley on the "classical" side of the Equation, and to fans of Brian Eno and Thomas Koner on the "rock" side.
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AllMusic Review by AllMusic