Pauline Anna Strom is best known for her work under the moniker Trans-Millenia Consort, named after her 1982 debut. While she recorded 7 full length projects from 1982-88, she didn't receive any real acclaim or attention and as such had to sell her equipment and leave the music world. That is until 2017, when a compilation built from those tapes and LPs grabbed the attention of music fans, leading to Strom's return to music and her first project in over 30 years.
Strom's work, both under her own name and as TMC, fits neatly within the rather vague genres of New Age and Progressive Electronic. Rhythmically hypnotic synths and bell-like percussion can found on most tracks, offering a loose-fitting disorientation that leaves you with the confusing feeling of wanting to dance, but also to meditate. Other cuts lean towards Eno-esque Ambience, atmospheres that wash across your ears.
While the 2 genres have a clear love of synthesizers and can likely find very similar roots, more immediate influences are very different. Progressive Electronic music leans towards the futuristic, like Science Fiction landscapes being painted in your mind, worlds too far view briefly captured in these few minutes. New Age is of the moment, it celebrates nature, the world around you and your personal connection to it.
Angel Tears in Sunlight does a wonderful job of marrying these two ideas, taking the love they share for exploring and visits both the natural and the other-worldly. A 9 song, 42 minute journey through an alien world. A soundtrack to a planet of purple grass and yellow skies, where majestic cities exist, but we only skirt around their edges, instead we seek what the world itself has to offer.
Cuts like Marking Time and The Pulsation are energetic. They rely on percussion more, but also include quick snippets of chopped vocals and woodwinds. Melodic percussive instruments like marimba and xylophone can be heard as well, adding some harmony to the swirling rhythms.
Tracks like I Still Hope and The Eighteen Beautiful Memories look towards moments of stillness. The percussion drops away, as does most of the chirping and chopped vocals, leaving little else but atmosphere and whatever various shades are present in this extra-terrestrial sunset.
Small Reptiles on the Forest Floor is similar, but has a soft, jangling collection of wooden blocks that appear and disappear at will, adding an odd but welcome mysticism. This style is continued in Tropical Rainforest, which also uses lots of animal noises and field recordings to represent its title immaculately.
Temple Gardens at Midnight and Equatorial Sunrise are the two songs that feature more of a direction as they progress. The former starts out slow and in a wash of ambience, but gently tends towards Progressive Electro, submarine beeps permeate the second half as if we're diving to see the depths of an ocean. The latter is more aggressive, initially shifting between several different rhythmic patterns and tones, by the 2 minute mark these have coalesced into a more cohesive set. This particular piece reminds me of some Tribal Ambient music, pulsing and powerful yet incredibly easy to relax to.
We sadly lost Pauline Anna Strom at the end of last year. This will likely be her final album. While Strom herself might not be able to see the love that this project will get, hopefully she knew that some would, having seen enough late praise after the 2017 comp and clearly put in a lot of effort into this piece.
Overall Angel Tears in Sunlight is a wonderful project that, more than anything else I could write, is about life. A warm and welcoming album, that is designed to entrance you and take you on a beautiful journey, unlike any other