Over the past decade, Los-Angeles-based composer, Sarah Davachi, has been at the heart of modern day minimalism.
Deeply inspired by baroque music, the Fluxus movement and deep listening purveyors such as Terry Riley and Lamonte Young, the year in new music is never complete without Davachi featuring in it. And following Mother of Pearl – the 2021 collaboration release with Sean McCann – Davachi offers her latest voyage into the meditative state with Two Sisters.
Influenced by Andrzej Zulawski’s 1981 classic film, Possession, Two Sisters sees Davachi taking minimalism into exciting new places. While featuring a choir, string quartet, trombone quartet, electronics, the drone continues to be the focal point for Davachi.
Haress Interview: “I really think the record is a product of its environment”
Always an artist who has possessed a fascination with different instruments inside the religious space, on Two Sisters Davachi employs an eighteen century Italian tracker organ, which is the vital thread that runs through these nine compositions.
Starting with Hall of Mirrors, as Davachi utilises a 12 ton bell to summon her listeners into the broad church of drone. This is where we are met with Alas, Departing. With a fragile chant seemingly from beyond the ruins, this skeletal composition evokes the kind of hymnal quality we’ve previously associated with Julianna Barwick.
It follows on during Vanity of Ages. A hypno drone movement that is like an aphrodisiac that eases you into the record. This is where the vastly rich and multi-textured Icon Studies awaits. With a gentle rattling of strings, this elastic composition ferries listeners to new orbits. The inner grains of sound feed into Harmonies in Bronze and Harmonies in Green where Davachi’s organ playing redefines escapism. The two pieces are not only beautiful, they completely stop you in your tracks.
From here Two Sisters’ longest compositions, Icon Studies II and En Bas Tus Vois are the kind of drone pieces that completely envelope the listener. Subtle and repetitious whereby Davachi hypnotises her audience.
The tempo shifts with closing piece, O World and the Clear Song. Here, Davachi showcases a cinematic streak, breaking tradition of the medieval and renaissance influences that have always served her so well.
2022 has seen many fine drone records being released, but none have explored the essence of the genre like Davachi on Two Sisters – a record where she implements new methods alongside a well-informed idea of religious music; a facet that has always underpinned her creative ideas.
While perhaps not Davachi’s most immediate release, Two Sisters is arguably the composer’s most rewarding and emotionally vexing to date.
Two Sisters is out Friday via Late Music. Purchase from Bandcamp.
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