Canadian sound artist Sarah Davachi uses electronics and site-specific acoustics to transform various instruments into something mesmerizing | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Canadian sound artist Sarah Davachi uses electronics and site-specific acoustics to transform various instruments into something mesmerizing 

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click to enlarge Sarah Davachi

Sarah Davachi

Richard Smith

For years Canadian composer Sarah Davachi has created stunning works of meditative sound art that deal with psychoacoustics, drone, and site-specific acoustic properties, often through hypnotic long-form pieces. She developed much of this material alone, using either strictly synthetic sources or subtle manipulations of long tones played on various keyboard instruments. In recent years, though, Davachi—who’s currently a doctoral student in musicology at UCLA—has increasingly collaborated with other instrumentalists. On last year’s stunning All My Circles Run (Students of Decay) she bathed live sounds produced on strings, piano, or voice in immersive, transformative electronics, but her new album, Let Night Come on Bells End the Day (Recital), suggests she hasn’t left her older methodologies in the past. Two of the record’s longer pieces, “Mordents” and “Buhrstone,” embroider minimal patterns created with Mellotron and piano, and manipulate natural overtones to form billowing sonic clouds that hang over her articulated notes. Those sounds seep into each tone she produces, muddying them up and enveloping them in viscous harmonies. Tracks such as “Hours in the Evening” and “At Hand” are spectral drones, and as microscopic shifts sneak by almost imperceptibly, they give each piece a trance-inducing character. For this performance Davachi will once again appear with live musicians to reprise work she premiered in LA last year. The material was built from pipe organ improvisations, and she has adapted them for her reed organ and two baroque string instruments, violin and viola da gamba, which will be performed here by Whitney Johnson (Matchess) and Phillip Serna, respectively.   v

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