Sarah Davachi – Pale Bloom

Sarah Davachi – Pale Bloom

Sunday, 31 March 2019, 10.10am

Pale Bloom finds Sarah Davachi coming full circle. After abandoning the piano studies of her youth for a series of albums utilizing everything from pipe and reed organs to analog synthesizers, this prolific Los Angeles-based composer returns to her first instrument for a radiant work of quiet minimalism and poetic rumination.

Recorded at Berkeley, California’s famed Fantasy Studios, Pale Bloom is comprised of two delicately-arranged sides. The first – a three-part suite where Davachi’s piano acts as conjurer, beckoning Hammond organ and stirring countertenor into a patiently unfolding congress – recalls Eduard Artemiev’s majestic soundtrack for Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris. “Perfumes I-III” employs the harmonically rich music of Bach as a springboard for abstract, solemn pieces that sound as haunted as they are dreamlike.

While the first half of Pale Bloom showcases Davachi’s latent Romanticism, the sidelong “If It Pleased Me To Appear To You Wrapped In This Drapery” reveals the Mills College graduate’s affinity for the work of avant-garde composers La Monte Young and Eliane Radigue. Softly vibrating strings rise and fall like complementary exhalations of breath. As the fluctuating pitches create overtones that pitter and pulse, the piece slowly and subtly evolves – suggesting a well-tempered stillness, yet without stasis.




Why I gave the above rating: 

Sarah Davachi is a Canadian sound artist and electroacoustic composer and performer. Her work is consistently fascinating, minimal in material though dense in colour; explorations of consonance and dissonance with austere textures and sustained tones. Her preferred tonal palette to date has revolved mostly around the organ, strings and electronics, the last generally supporting and highlighting the physical interactions of the sounds of the others.

Her latest release, Pale Bloom – a four-track album on the Superior Viaduct label – somewhat bucks this trend. Not that she has eschewed these interests, rather she has allowed her evident interest in Baroque music to crystallise in a more defined way in her music. Instead of the sustained electronic cloud of sound on, say, the opening track of her previous album, Auster’, ‘Perfume I’ opens with piano, specifically a reworked version of the Andante of Bach’s Italian Concerto. In true Davachi style, the piano reduces further, and further, while the a sampled and reversed version begins to creep in around the edges. ‘Perfumes 2’ continues this reworking in a new direction, with the addition of a delicate and lonely-sounding countertenor; ‘Perfumes 3’ with an organ leading, and a new hopeful cast. The effect is surprisingly emotional, a tender and what, in this timeless space, feels like a short moment but is actually 20 minutes of reflection. The track that acts as B-side in this release’s vinyl edition is a single 20 minute work, If It Pleased Me To Appear To You Wrapped in this Drapery’ (the title taken from the poetry of Andre Breton), sees Davachi return to the gorgeous interaction of strings and organ, and the beating and interacting of their suspended tones.

Feb 26, 2020

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