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Suzanne Ciani Help, Help The Globolinks! Finders Keepers

In the midst of a feverish reappraisal of her life and times, the true scope of Suzanne Ciani’s broad career is beginning to emerge. In between brilliant early records and later Grammy-winning piano compositions, she trod some admittedly strange paths. A scoring of campy children’s opera Help, Help The Globolinks!, which premiered in 1980, certainly qualifies as one of the strangest.

For anyone who has discovered Ciani recently through her 2016 collaborative LP with Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith or the A Life In Waves biopic, this might admittedly not be for you. Last year, Finders Keepers released two fine Bulcha synth concerts from the mid-70s, and in comparison, this scans as an especially niche curio.

It’s a little tricky to approach this, shorn of context – you’re left to picture how the fluttering trills and low tones would be used with a theatrical experience that sat somewhere between Mars Attacks!, a Christmas panto and the chirrups of cult extraterrestrial pre-school show Clangers. Genuine moments of translatable humour and whimsy are dotted around, most notably when Ciani’s voice is fed through a processor to come out garbled and schlocky, or a loud horn clarion which keeps rudely parping across the mix; you can imagine the delight of the audience at spots like this.

But while there are passages on the recordings which variously evoke Mort Garson’s new age material, or the light-hearted springiness of Todd Terje’s ARP-based synth jams, there isn’t much for a contemporary listener to latch onto here without Gian Carlo Menotti’s production taking place to accompany it. There’s probably a reason this recording remained unearthed for so long.