In the 1980s, Pennsylvania-based Michele Mercure was composing music for theater, film, and TV animation. After a trip to the Netherlands, she became inspired by the German kosmiche music scene of Kluster, Tangerine Dream, and the like. But Mercure cut her own path into experimental electronic music, weaving her synthetic, rhythmic soundscapes with strange samples and cut-up vocalizations, resulting in tracks that move between abstract and ambient dreamscapes and mechanized intensity. For decades, Mercure's self-released cassettes (under the name Michelle Musser) moved through underground trading circles but many of those recordings will now reach a wider group of heads. Beside Herself is a gorgeous 19-track Michele Mercure retrospective released today by the esteemed curators at RVNG Intl. and Freedom To Spend labels. To celebrate the release, Mercure and Mary Haverstick created the wonderful "Electronumentary" above. Below, one of the album tracks. From RVNG:
Mercure's artistic path never ran through creative meccas New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles. Raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, and then moving to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in her twenties, Mercure was already an adept musician when she encountered a local and lively theater scene, and was asked to score an unorthodox performance of Waiting for Godot. The experience was pivotal in marrying music and image for Mercure, and so she began making music for film, television, dance, and theater. It wasn't until a long sojourn in Eindhoven, however, that she became transfixed by electronic music (ala Conrad Schnitzler, whom she would correspond with for years) that would inform her music to come.
Mercure's contemporaries became the kindred minds of the Eurock "scene" such as The Nightcrawlers, Lauri Paisley, and Don Slepian. It was in association with Paisley and Pauline Anna Strom that Eurock featured Mercure in an article titled "Women Synthesists" in 1986. The three artists all shared a bravura for homespun, self-produced electronic music that looked beyond pop conventions for a higher plane of avant-gardism or musical spirituality…
The anthological scope of Beside Herself joins (her previously reissued 1986 album) Eye Chant to restore the canon of Mercure's arresting dream-music, revisiting this anomalous creator's breakthrough material. Beside Herself will be released on double LP, CD, and digital formats on November 9, 2018. The set features liner notes by Emily Pothast and an incredible array of unseen photography and ephemera of the era.