Published Sep 12, 2018Isolation permeates Sarah Davachi's music. Marooned by rain, with the help of guests Jessica Holmes, Camille Hesketh and Jessica Moss, the bulk of 2017's All My Circles Run was recorded in a single day at the Hotel2Tango studio in Montreal. Each track was a tone study for a single instrument, single notes made big and interrogated through various modes of microscopic synthesis.
After the solitary Mellotrons and electronic organs of Let Come On Bells End the Day, with Gave In Rest, her second full-length of the year, Davachi returns to that bespoke Montreal recording studio, joined again by Moss and new guests Thierry Amar (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) Terri Hron, and Lisa McGee (Higuma).
Once again, Davachi's electro-acoustic compositions manifest as expansive vistas, each of her tracks zooming in on granular details hidden deep within sounds we take for granted, explicating the protean nature of single notes played on acoustic instruments, slowing, augmenting and bending vibrations as if constructing theoretical worlds completely removed from the conditions that birthed them
This time a modern reading of medieval and renaissance composition, Gave In Rest was conceptualized between visits Davachi made to churches and lapidariums while touring Europe alone for much of 2017, finding belonging and inspiration in the reliable stillness of the physical spaces and the acoustic experiences of their various services.
Each track is named for a time of day or a corresponding church service; Davachi digs into those encounters for a reformed secular experience — this is an album about solitary comfort and the power of ritual.
With "Auster" (named for a wind that brought heavy cloud cover and fog in Roman mythology), Davachi opens the album with a series of elongated recorder intonations supplied by Hron, punctuating each pass with a quietude, creating tension and discomfort that could supply the soundtrack to a horror movie. While the jarring irregularity of "Auster" establishes a sense of unease from the offset, Davachi spends the rest of the album building toward more stable footing.
Moss's strings provide the base for a more welcoming drone on "Third Hour," while McGee's vocals provide ghostly, omnipresent accompaniment to Davachi's lonely piano play as they pass through an EMT 140 plate reverb on "Evensong," respectively named for a morning prayer occurring three hours after dawn and an evening service of prayers, psalms and canticles.
As the album continues to progress, the tracklisting suggests several passings from day into night, the natural rhythms of time aligning with the schedules of communal ceremony, time and space transformed from something elusive into something more tangible through a series of micro reflections, the same effect Davachi's process has on our understanding of the sounds she adopts as her subjects.
Gave In Rest isn't just Sarah Davachi's celebration of ritual, it's a temple to her entire practice. (Ba Da Bing!)