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Joanna Brouk, the electronic composer and new age artist, has died. A representative from Numero Group, who released her career retrospective Hearing Music last year, confirmed the news to Pitchfork. She was 68. While studying literature at Berkeley, she became interested in the connection between sound and poetry. She began experimenting with synthesizers and field recordings at the nearby Mills College for Contemporary Music. Brouk’s teachers at Mills included Terry Riley and Robert Ashley. “It’s the space between the notes where things started happening,” she said of her approach to music in a 2016 interview. “So many virtuosos want to play fast to show their technique. But you should slow it down.”
Between 1981 and 1985, she released a series of tapes: Healing Music, Sounds of the Sea, The Space Between, Golden Swan, and The Healing Touch. All of those records, plus unreleased material from Brouk’s archive, were collected on the Numero Group compilation. She was also featured on Light in the Attic’s new age compilation I Am the Center. Following her recorded output in the 1980s, she stepped away from music to pursue a career in writing. She wrote fiction, journalism, plays, and poetry. She also hosted a radio show on KPFA in Berkeley. The Numero Group release led to a resurgence of attention to her career; Brouk made her European live debut in France earlier this year. She was scheduled to perform in New York City—her first American show outside of California—in June.