Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

Suzzane Ciani

Remember that tinkly “pop ‘n’ pour” sound on ‘80s Coca-Cola commercials? Or the jingle for Atari? How about the robotic beckoning voice of the Xenon pinball machine? All of those were the work of Suzanne Ciani, Goddess of the modular synthesizer.

A Life in Waves details how Ciani discovered electronic music while studying classical piano at Berkeley, started playing a Buchla synth — and then smashed her way through two male-dominated industries: electronic music and advertising.

When labels passed her over because she wasn’t a pop singer (boooo, labels! BOOOO), Suzanne approached ad agencies with her work and ended up producing sound effects and jingles for big brands, then took the money she earned from that and started her own New Age record label, Seventh Wave.

As fascinated as I was by watching her journey, I was even more fascinated about learning the origins of electronic music. As an ‘80s teen, I worshiped synth beats, but I always assumed they came out of something that resembled a large keyboard with F/X dials. Then I saw Ciani using dials, knobs and patch cords on a giant computerized panel to produce amazing musical compositions. I’m sure hardcore electronica nerds already knew this, but my mind was definitely BLOWN.

Long story, short: this lady kicks serious assYou should go see this documentary so you understand just how much.

{A Life in Waves screens one more time at SIFF on Wednesday, June 7, 9:15pm at Ark Lodge Cinemas}