The written history of electronic/avant-garde music is often Euro-centric and overly male so the [re]discovery of Venezuelan cosmic pioneer Oksana Linde has been very illuminating and most welcome. The sheer amount of genres originating from Latin America is enormous with perhaps cumbia, salsa, merengue, or porro as some of the most well-known genres, but the region has also produced an impressive number of electronic innovators such as Ángel Rada, Musikautomatika, Miguel Noya, Vinicio Adames and countless others who often self-released records or tapes back in the day. Lind privately recorded music that was eventually shared online, which thankfully, led to this outstanding retrospective that will hopefully put her name on the list of crucial early electronic composers.
Buh label’s Luis Alvarado discovered the music through a social media post by journalist Gustav Pazos who was writing about Venezuelan artists, and this post was then shared by musician Rada. In the post, Pazos mentioned Linde, which encouraged Luis to search out her music and reach out on Facebook. After several months of waiting Linde finally responded to Luis and now at 74 she has her first record out.
Linde came from a family of Ukraine immigrants and was born in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas in 1948 where her family introduced her to Ukrainian, Venezuelan, classical, and various other types of music at a young age. Originally a chemical researcher, Linde quit her day job in the early 1980s in order to spend more time on music, and after setting up her home studio, she began to prolifically compose and record, though sadly didn’t release anything outside of circulating cassettes amongst friends. In 2020, London-based label Mana Records included the beautiful track “Ensueno II” on the Dream Tech compilation that’s available on Bandcamp.
The compositions on Aquatic and Other Worlds [1983-1989] were created using a Moog Polymoog, Casio CZ-1, a Moog Source, and various other synthesizers. Linde creates hugely immersive and powerful music that takes over the listener with expansive harmonies and rich melodies., and at points the music is mysterious and dark, while other times it's bright and lyrical.
The album begins with the sci-fi sounding “Intromersión” a zonked-out piece, and a great introduction to Linde’s aquatic world. The following track “Viaje hacia la luz” has elements of classical music superimposed over an oceanic drone that’s haunting and grand and also shows the range of her musical ideas. Other pieces like “Playa Caribe” and “Orinoco” use overlapping melodies that are as mesmerizing as anything you would hear on any classic 1970s German or French synth or ambient record. Album closer “Ensueño” almost feels like a return to land with its gentle and slow-moving musical phrases and works perfectly as the last song.
All in all, the tracks showcase a wide diversity of moods and sounds that are unique and lyrical, and it’s great that the music is more readily available. Buh Records put a lot of love and care into Aquatic and Other Worlds [1983-1989] and it’s a crucial listen for anyone interested in under-appreciated pioneering electronic artists as well as fans of electronic music in general. Hopefully this is just the first of many planned releases because the world could use a lot more Oksana Linde right now.