Sarah Davachi – Vergers (Important)


Canadian artist Sarah Davachi is an electroacoustic composer engaged in practices of analog synthesis, psychoacoustic manipulations, and studio composition. Her work here focuses on a single electronic instrument, the EMS Synthi 100 synthesizer, creating an hypnotic long form drone, allowing the listener to embrace the texture and lose themselves in the uncertain beauty, though also hard edge of the timbre. This is long form music, compositions of stasis that subtley build or subtract in density, Davachi also manages to incorporate her own voice and violin, which are at times quite processed and difficult to identify, though still offer subtle accents to this remarkable work.

This is Davachi’s third LP, having previously released her work on Students of Decay and JAZ Records, and it manages to walk a fine line between ethereal ambient beauty and austere minimal experimental electronics. Perhaps the most shocking and challenging aspect of this release is its unique ability to slow the listener down, to find value and beauty in the long form, and slow subtle variations. There’s no doubt that Davachi’s music has a physiological effect, deepening the breathing, slowing the movement dropping the pulse, yet there’s also an enexpected edge with her synth drone both warm yet also flirting with distortion. It’s welcome but there’s also an element of anxiety attached to it. When Davichi incorporates the violin midway through the second piece ‘Ghost’s and all,’ it’s almost a jolt, particularly given the simplicity and the subtlety of the ingredients that preceeded it. Yet appearing over the synth drone, with languid oscillations, after the unitial shock subsides it still manages to coalesce and the piece returns to feeling just like a single sound source albeit more texturally dense.

It’s curious as within the drones there are these wavering oscillations, yet with most other works you wouldn’t even pick this up, much less the gradual, almost difficult to define developments which are perhaps the result of filtering, or manipulating delay time or feedback, and all you can suggest is that something has shifted, even if you’re not entirely sure what. Yet without the feeling of stasis you would never really feel the time to examine the sounds so carefully, and this is the fascinating thing about Davachi’s work. It’s a work that feels like a metaphor in musical form, it’s retraining our brains and ears to begin to notice the world around us. It’s very much synthesizer music, yet there’s a curious irony at play. For such a minimal work with such a primary focus on the EMS Synthi 100, you can’t help but feel that it says much more about Davachi than it does about any kind of hardware.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.