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Pauline Anna Strom

Throughout the 1980s, San Francisco-based composer Pauline Anna Strom released a series of LPs and cassettes consisting of strange, celestial new age and ambient music inspired by nature, science fiction, and ancient history. She abandoned music by the end of the decade and focused on spiritual healing, but following the release of a well-received compilation of her work, she recorded her final album, Angel Tears in Sunlight, which was released in 2021. Blind since birth, Strom grew up near New Orleans and spent much of her childhood listening to classical music and audio books. Eventually, she got married to a man enlisted in the military and moved to San Francisco. There, she discovered the Hearts of Space radio program on independent radio station KPFA, and she was entranced by the music of Klaus Schulze, Kitaro, and other new age and ambient artists. Strom bought an electronic organ, and then several synthesizers, as well as a Tascam four-track recorder. She became restlessly creative, working on music every day and night, often until six in the morning. Eventually she met Lemon DeGeorge and Willard Van De Bogart, founders of the Ether Ship collective, who produced and released Strom's debut album, 1982's Trans-Millenia Consort. While the record received some positive press, it soon slipped into obscurity, and Strom ended her association with Ether Ship due to financial issues and other disagreements. She formed her own Trans-Millenia Consort Recordings for the release of her subsequent albums, starting with the hallucinogenic Plot Zero. Spectre followed in 1984, but Strom ran out of money, and stopped releasing LPs. After four more years and a second marriage, Strom released four limited cassettes in 1988. Her music had become more experimental, incorporating field recordings and non-traditional sound sources. Due to ongoing financial troubles, she sold all of her music equipment and concentrated on her business as a spiritual healer and Reiki master. Gradually, her music found an audience, and some of her albums were bootlegged. Trans-Millenia Music, the first officially licensed anthology of Strom's music, was issued by Rvng Intl. in 2017. The compilation was widely acclaimed, and its response encouraged her to acquire new instruments and resume composing. Strom died at the age of 74 in December 2020, and Angel Tears in Sunlight was posthumously released two months later.
© Paul Simpson /TiVo
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