Selections from my Record Collection : Buffy Sainte-Marie - Illuminations (1969)
Updated: Sep 6, 2020
Wire magazine has placed Illuminations amongst its '100 Albums that Set the World on Fire While No-One was Listening'. Steve Hackett of Genesis fame has included it in his all time top 10 and I am sure that artists like Chelsea Wolfe, Anna von Hausswolff or Zola Jesus are owing many elements of their sound to it.
Released in 1969, it was the first ever quadrophonic vocal album to be made and this is only one of the many records that Buffy Sainte-Marie has achieved in her life and career (I will leave the reader to google further that aspect...). Her music has been for many years blacklisted (due to her activism regarding the American Indian Movement and her vocal Vietnam-era pacifism), gained later "cult"status but in my opinion has yet to receive the wider acclaim it deserves.
Illumination is not just another psychedelic-folk-rock album of the 60's. The electronic effects (her vocals were processed via a Buchla synthesiser) and its dark atmosphere make it an album very much ahead of its time. Fortunately, it has seen a CD and LP reissue which are well deserved to be sought after.