Boomkat Product Review:
Avant-percussionist and composer Sarah Hennies explores the brink of un/consciousness in a captivating work for piano and percussion for Oren Ambarchi’s trailblazing Black Truffle. Meditative but often invasively violent, the hour-long piece follows her striking ‘Embedded Environments’ LP for Blume in 2018 with a music that effectively gestures into space between The Necks and Julius Eastman.
As with the resoundingly acclaimed ‘Embedded Environments’, Hennies' latest work uses sound as a means to explore both musical and extra-musical ideas about sociopolitical and psychological issues relating to her own identity, as well as integral topics of love, intimacy, psychoacoustics and percussion. Performed by Phillip Bush (piano) and Sarah with her Meridian bandmates Tim Feeney and Greg Stuart on percussion, the hour long works skirt the schism between conscious and unconscious minds, metaphorically using the two grouped instruments (piano / percussion) to reflect Jung and Freud’s description of the unconscious mind “…as a reservoir, a repository for memories that we don’t readily need access to, yet are kept forever in our minds”, and the way in which its mysterious presence penetrates conscious, everyday thought.
Across the hour-long span of ‘Reservoir 1’, the constant, supple, reactive piano performance acts as the conscious element, while the trio of Meridian’s percussionists take on the role of a separate, unconscious entity pricking and hammering away at the buoyant sense of consciousness. Alternating between chronic rustling that surely nods to Julius Eastman, and more pointed, violent sounds of bricks dropping in buckets, the persistent but fallible percussion is an amorphous, underlying presence that can raise or diffuse the tension surrounding the keys, which, also like Eastman’s classic series, also milk the most out of a relatively simple but damn effective phrase - where the same saying can have myriad different meanings depending the notes’ intonation.