There has never been a better time for women in electronic music than right now. Accessibility, production, visibility and technology are right at our fingertips. The artists on this list were chosen for their ability to channel meaning that resists the distraction of mass culture. Like their predecessors Annea Lockwood, Daphine Oram, Laurie Spiegel and Pauline Oliveros, they have constructed a devoted charm out of the sounds of solitude using electronics, vocals and landscape. This foray into New Age territory not only brings women to the forefront of ambient and minimalist music, but adds staying power.
10. VICKI TIPPIT/BLACK KITE
Houston’s own Vicki Tippit’s vocals are reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser. Their latest, Soft Animus Heart (Miss Champagne Records), is a jaunt into haunting, forthright vocals while shadowy electronics hint toward the pop side of ambient music. Keep an eye on these folks.
9. FRANCINE THIRTEEN
Dallas-based Francine Thirteen channels feminine myths with mystical electronic-infused hymns. Her approach of fusing performative elements and rollicking vocals, combined with witchy R&B and minimal electronics, is almost like ritual as a form of communication fit for a voodoo queen. Catch her in Dallas at Three Links this Thursday, and keep an eye out for her new album, 4 Mary’s and the King.
8. MJ GUIDER
Inspired by the gloomy natural and industrial landscape of New Orleans, the 2016 release of Precious Systems by Melissa Guion off Kranky has created a ripple effect within indie music blogs. The album is a slowed-down, chilly affair with lo-fi vocals, swirling drone and lush atmosphere. MJ Guider takes the listener on a contemplative journey of coarse beauty through The Big Easy.
7. ELYSIA CRAMPTON
Last year’s release of Elysia Crampton Presents: Demon City is a stellar example of electronic music as queer, techno-futurist narrative. The album is filled with textured, heavy-handed synths and hypnotic percussion while infusing classic Latin sounds of cumbia and huayno. This spring, she’ll be a featured performer at this year’s Moogfest, May 18-21 in Durham, North Carolina.
6. FELICIA LEDESMA/VIRGIN BLOOD
Ledesma’s lo-fi work as Virgin Blood is a shimmering example of the ethereal minimal wave that combines field recordings with reverb-soaked vocals to produce tension-driven soundscapes. Ledesma is also the executive director of S1, a rad nonprofit artist-run contemporary art center in Portland, Oregon, that also is home to the Synth Library, an initiative to educate the community to engage in modular synthesizers and electronics. Ledesma will also perform at Moogfest this year.
5. MARY LATTIMORE
Lattimore ditches her classical music upbringing to adopt distinct improvised harmonies fit for aristocracy with her 47-string Lyon & Healy. Her glittering plucked arpeggios venture from pretty textures into echoing, melancholic compositions. Catch her solo performance in town this Friday at the Civic TV Laboratories.
4. KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH
Despite Suzanne Cianni's being crowned the "Diva of the Diode," Smith has come forward as a close runner-up. Her sound is shaped by the pastoral terrain of her hometown on Orcas Island in Washington State. She trained on the complex Buchla Music Easel, and her music brings vibrant, hypnotic compositions close to home. Smith will make a stop in Texas at the annual Marfa Myths music/arts festival March 9-12.
3. JENNY HVAL
A dense mix of art-rock and off-kilter pop comes together in Jenny Hval’s latest, Blood Bitch, which Pitchfork named one of the top experimental albums of 2016. On it, the Norwegian artist weaves in and out of ritual, pop, Stein-esque poetry and the fear of failure. Hval will also be performing this March at Marfa Myths and in Austin.
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2. JULIANNA BARWICK
The daughter of a pastor and a hymnal signer, Julianna Barwick channels warped spirituality with glimmering looped vocals so soothing you’d like to think they could cure world peace (if only). Will, released last May, is composed of powerfully emotive compositions that transform space into a reverb-soaked ambient landscape.
Hailing from the eerie Pacific Northwest, Grouper is the ambient drone project of Liz Harris. Her albums are harrowing journeys that elicit an otherworldly intimacy that’s set to field recordings of nature, such as Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill. Adrift, haunting vocals reverb off the faint whisper of wind while crickets provide a refreshing reminder of how environment adds to the simplicity of her captivating loop-based music. Hear Grouper this spring at Idaho’s Treefort Music Fest.