Boomkat Product Review:
Sarah Davachi provides a shortcut to the sublime with 90 minutes of head stroking quiet music - simply unmissable for acolytes of Éliane Radigue, La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela, Kevin Drumm, Andrew Chalk, AFX’s 2nd ambient set
The 10-part retrospective ’Selected Works I & II’ is an ideal way to mark 10 years of releases by composer Sarah Davachi, whose blessed run of recordings of rare, quiet intensity hold among the past decade’s definitive lowkey works. As her legion followers will surely attest, Davachi’s music is possessed of a deeply uncanny potential to mesmerise and transport the mind to other places, following extended lines of melodic and harmonic thought, rooted in early music, chamber classical, and C.20th American minimalism, to the gauziest, most seductive new horizons of timbre and psychoacoustics.
As with her live shows, Davachi’s recorded music operates at, or just below, the speed of resting thought, with a life-affirming ability to sync one’s senses to hers, prompting the imagination to follow its own nose to wherever it goes. To attentively listen to her work can result in genuine, unfettered zen-like or immanent experience, untroubled by the musical clutter that can distract or more plainly signpost emotions, and give listeners a thruline to the sublime, as felt strongly on ‘Selected Works I & II’,
Drawn from material that predates her debut ‘The Untuning of the Sky’ (2013), and also hail from it, as well as excerpted from subsequent live recordings, tape and CD releases, and a precious trove of unreleased work; it all adds up to the sort of release we would direct newcomers as a perfect primer or portal to Davachi’s world. The calming course of ‘Alms Vert’ opens this set, as it did her debut, staking out her fluency of ancient instrumental tongue in contemporary vernacular, while the just intoned drone of ‘In Grand Luxe Hall’ places her in a live context, exploring links between architecture, psychoacoustics, and spirit that ideally reveals the teeth to her music, somehow akin to the drone chronics of Catherine Christer Hennix. The ‘Gathers’ parts from her lockdown tape for our Documenting Sound series characterises a contemporary porousness to noise and natural world, while the incremental shifts of ‘Neustadt’ proves how her music benefits from durational immersion, but likewise enchants in short form on the exquisite ‘First Triad’ and the beatific ‘A Woman Escapes Cue 4’.