A 1969 synth composition based on a 19th-century French poem is the pick of an uneven LP.
Her 2012 retrospective Lixiviation, the first time most of Ciani's earliest experimental works was widely released, coincided with the rise of musicians like Emeralds and Oneohtrix Point Never, who were using the type of gear Ciani had utilised decades prior. Instantly embraced by that crowd, Ciani has since released a collaborative album with Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and performed alongside contemporary artists such as Holly Herndon, M. Geddes Gengras and Keith Fullerton Whitman.
Since Lixiviations, the label Finders Keepers has issued a steady stream of rarely heard archival recordings by Ciani. Flowers Of Evil is the most recent—and perhaps the least essential—of these releases. At its best, Ciani's music embodies the deep connection she has with the Buchla, evoking a sense of sympathy with the strange and unknown. This is certainly true of "Flowers Of Evil," which is inspired by the Charles Baudelaire poem "Élévation."
Ciani's piece opens with its most exhilarating moment. A slow ringing of synthesizers that recalls the chiming of church bells floats weightlessly, building a sense of anticipation. Suddenly, rapid arpeggiations burst forth from the calm, before settling into an enveloping 7/4 pattern. Baudelaire's text speaks to the soul's capacity to move beyond the monotony of everyday life—Ciani's expression of this transcendence relies on hypnotic repetition to mimic the endless rise towards serenity.
The rest of Flowers Of Evil feels slight in comparison. "Glass Houses" and "Token Spokes" (which is divided into two parts) feel more like explorations of the capabilities of Ciani's instrument rather than fully realized compositions. "Glass Houses," with its flittering blips of sound, is manic and disorienting, but doesn't necessarily reveal much about Ciani's compositional techniques. These pieces pale in comparison to the brilliance of "Flowers Of Evil," which suggests that there might be more dimensions to Ciani's craft yet to be discovered.