ambient electronica Experimental review synth

Oksana Linde – Aquatic and Other Worlds Review

A synth album 74 years in the making.

Sounds like…

Vintage synthesizer work that sounds purposely crafted from an early ’80s view of the future.

The review

They say it’s never too late to do new things and Oksana Linde is a great example. At 74 years old, she is releasing her debut album! The Latin American composer has been making music for decades but has been largely overlooked. This is a delve into her synthesizer work between 1983-1989. It’s a haunting and captivating collection.

Hailing from Venezuela, Oksana’s work become known early in the ’80s as Venezuelan synth music started to take on a new shape. Setting up a Polymoog, a TEAC open reel tape recorder and a Moog source she began composing. Later Linde would add in a Roland Tape Echo, a TR-505 drum machine and a Korg M1. With all of this creativity, Oksana was composing but not publishing her work and so the early work of a female pioneer in Latin American synth music was left hidden until research began at a later date.

What strikes me with the work is how hypnotic and celestial it all is. From “Playa Caribe” we have cascading synths over a throbbing moogy pulse. It’s playful and uptempo. “Viaje Hacia La Luz” on the other hand feels almost gothic as the harsh space organs blare out like a Philip Glass soundtrack. Other tracks like “Bajo La Lluvia” and “Mariposas Acuaticas” have a floaty jellyfish in twinkling light feel. The rubbery NES like leads synth caresses the ears like a Fairlight at times. There is definitely a psychedelic side to the music too but Oksana Linde prioritises a melody first and foremost.

photo of Oksana Linde
Oksana Linde – photo by Carlos Ochoa

Adding to the overall vintage feel is the analogue tape recording. These tracks have been lifted from old reels and you can hear it. The celestial reeds of the beautiful track “Orinoco” collects extra colour because the transfer gives a grizzled chisel to the synths. Imagine a sci-fi soundtrack (underwater) being played back to you through a VHS tape. That dirty filter adds a certain charm and quality to it. Add to that these synths sound exactly how ’70s and ’80s futuristic sci-fi soundtracks would think 2050 would sound like and there’s a slight amusement here too.

Interestingly, possibly my favourite piece from the album is the most melodic and direct. “Recordando a Kitaro” is a sublime synth piece that feels both timeless and of its time – like a sombre love story from another world.

Oksana Linde’s work is a luscious and exciting window into the formative years of Latin American women creating synth music. Almost every song could be a soundtrack for a sci-fi show or movie and with the lights off and the sky above you, the music stirs the soul for exploration in the moonlight. It may have taken 74 years for Oksana Linde to get her debut album out to us all but like a fine wine, this has aged perfectly.

Enjoy a short interview and documentary that showcases Oksana’s music below.

Recommended track: Recordando a Kitaro

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Oksana Linde - Aquatic and Other Worlds

8.5

8.5/10

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