Boomkat Product Review:
Blume is fast becoming one of the most crucial contemprary imprints for new and archival electronic and electro-acoustic works - and this one has once again completely destroyed us. If you’ve been snagged on the ideas and effects of sides from Áine O’Dwyer, Jim O’Rourke’s Steamroom archive, Julius Eastman or indeed Blume’s Mary Jane Leach edition, we wager this one will floor you.
The exceptional Blume series have us rapt on the edge of our listening seats with Sarah Hennies’ striking works for percussion; 'Foragers' and 'Embedded Environments', a pair of sui generis modern compositions for four players which make staggering, contrasting use of the acoustics at “Silo City” in Buffalo, NY.
In admirable, riveting pursuit of a singular sound that best represents Hennies’ identity, Embedded Environments documents her strive to achieve a sort of 3rd track or space severed from the cultural baggage of cis-gendered tradition. In order to do so, Sarah stripped hers and the players instrumental gestures down to the barest minimum of repetitive patterns which didn’t imply or appropriate this or that culture, then used the human-made acoustics of the silos to allow those sounds to mix freely, embracing the aleatoric complexity of those results, once created and released into the huge resonant chamber.
Documented in long form on each side, the results of her incisive approach vary broadly. The rolling waves of pressure from Foragers are notably intense but barely there, while Embedded Environments is raucous by comparison, yet in their own way, they both share a futuristic primitivism that’s entirely rooted in the moment of here and now.
In the first, a chronically low rumble sustains a meditative pressure that’s neither new age nor connoting religious or even erotic themes. Rather its a reinforcement of presence redolent of some aspects of work by Alvin Lucier, and sharing a canny trick in common with Áine O’Dwyer’s Gallarais when the hypnotic effect is broken by the sound of a plane passing overhead, ripping us out of one sphere and into another and then back in a way that’s subtly crude and completely shocking to experience.
On the other hand, Sarah’s B-side takes the kind of drums you may associate with Native American ritual practise, and sends them spiralling skyward, outward to find their own paths beyond pastiche, pressed by a timeless sense of urgency and near seething aggression directed at the foundations of restrictive institutions.
As a record of our times, Embedded Environments acknowledges the stale accretion of psychogeographic and socio-political sonics, the binds of self-censorship, and the “norms” of contemporary composition, and seeks to plough for the now with a raging sort of stasis that’s perhaps an apt metaphor for the current status quo. As the liner notes by Bradford Bailey put it, "What She Has to Say, Has Never Been Said".