Vancouver native Phoebé Guillemot aka RAMZi creates rich, humid ecosystems of sound that, like the substance of the natural world, are as gorgeous as they are peculiar. As highly original contributions to experimental club music, they carry the internet-age baton in a tradition of exotica that began in the 1950s.
Guillemot grew up around the sounds of Don Cherry, Alice Coltrane, and new-age pioneer Iasos. At the age of 19, travels in Southeast Asia led to a love for the music that region; her affinity for non-Western sounds then grew to incorporate the traditions of Somalia, Morocco, the Ivory Coast, and the Mediterranean. She also cites ethnomusicologist Jon Hassell, who combined experimental music and folk music styles into what he coined “fourth world” music, as a formative influence. Like Hassell, RAMZi considers the immersive, escapist potential of the tropicalia and exotica traditions through an utterly non-appropriative lens; rather than sampling or quoting musical styles from the so-called “third world”, she drafts the fantastical soundscape of an altogether imagined one. While Hassell’s music alluded to the fourth world in a gesture that honors creation over appropriation, RAMZi’s music refers to a fifth (Ableton).
Guillemot’s extensive output has been released on cassettes, LPs, and 12”s via Vancouver’s Mood Hut and 1080p as well as Total Statis and RVNG. Her latest full-length, entitled Peze-Pitón, came out this past December on Glasgow imprint 12th Isle. Her layers of deep, intricate synth lines and sampled vocals navigate the inherent synchronicity of organic and alien, imitating fractal patterns, jungle calls, fecundity. Sound is biology, ecology, and activism: in her own words, “my music is most of all about the spiritual qualities of the natural world and the emergency for its protection. RAMZi is a warrior and its music is a weapon” (Ableton).