Cheri Knight

American Rituals

Freedom To Spend • 2022

Cheri Knight is the kind of artist whose story could well have been made up: as a schoolgirl, she came into contact with John Cage, taught herself a few instruments and, after studying philosophy and music, took a break again before taking up composition in the late 1970s. During this time, she increasingly experimented with her own voice, unusual composition techniques and, above all, the studio equipment at her university. After a fruitful encounter with Pauline Oliveros, this resulted in a few compilation contributions in the early 1980s and then finally … nothing more, until Pete Swanson and Jed Bindeman from RVNG Intl.’s reissue sublabel Freedom to Spend knocked on her door. »American Rituals« offers a seven-piece showcase of her work that sounds as improbable as her own story. In fact, quite a few of the pieces probably came about spontaneously in the studio rather than being made up on the drawing board and sound accordingly lively. Knight’s vocals, arranged in canon or as sometimes very challenging sound poetry, are sometimes reminiscent of the vocal experiments of labelmate Pamela Z. The whole thing, however, also has the air of the »joyful amateurism« that John Peel once admired in the British post-punk movement. And »Tips on Filmmaking« with its interlocking melodies and fantasy language vocals is reminiscent of the early work of Midori Takada or the »Tropical Drums of Deutschland«. In short, the stylistic range is enormous, but Knight’s signature is always unmistakable. It’s a shame that she was hardly active after 1984, only playing in bands here and there and otherwise … yes, of course, herding goats.

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Cheri Knight
American Rituals
from 24.99€