Live: Sarah Davachi + An Trinse + Recsund @ Rye Wax in London, 10/08/2017

Down the back alley that leads away from Peckham High Street. Snaking left. Then right. Another alleyway now. I’ve probably gone too far. Wait – there’s a sign. Down a set of steps. Basement, darkness. This isn’t the last time that I’ll be tentatively navigating a route through my surroundings tonight. All three artists this evening have their own means of obfuscating my sense of place, introducing aural feints in the path in front of me (illusions of a left-turn concealing a devious right), tampering with my understanding of orientation and depth.

We start with Recsund, whose transient electronic panoramas imply the onset of rhythm and seldom fulfil it. Pulsating organs and synthesisers begin with conscious timing and then gradually lose their definition, stretched across an echo that implies a subterranean sewer network. It’s constantly assembling toward something, and foolishly I follow the blueprints of this promise: awaiting the “inevitable” burst of noise that follows the scuttle and squeaks of presciently terrified insects, anticipating the sudden collapse of the void that sits between those deep oceanic rumbles and those improvisatory glimmers of synthesiser starlight. None of these events come to fruition. I’m led from unrequited query to part-built narrative, falling for the faux foretelling that resides within each.

The music of An Trinse also exists within this state of heavy-laden incompletion and expectation, amassing within the ghostly margins of events recently passed and imminent changes to come: factories eerily abandoned with the machinery left humming (shrill beeps from above, cold whirrs from beneath), quiet glimmers of emergent life in the morning. For how long can I reside within this discontented absence, caught between the reverberant ring of trauma and prophetic, dissonant anxiety? It doesn’t help that, for the most part, An Trinse permits only traces of human warmth spill into the image, rejecting the temptation to introduce the pronounced threads of harmony that would bring a certain melodic centring to the signals of ghostly automation or sweeping headlamps of drone. I cling to the echoes of former presences. Once again, the balance between satiation and restraint is masterful. An Trinse illuminates those elements that allow me to start questioning and hoping, while leaving darkness to dwell where those vital, axiomatic answers would otherwise be.

In light of all of this, it’s incredibly cathartic to hear Sarah Davachi’s rich opening drone: a warm hum, confident in its intention, unwavering in its pitch, persisting with the consistency of a solid object. Such simplicity doesn’t last. The drone becomes the bed to which Davachi tethers a high tone that somewhat resembles a guitar solo, chicaning across the upper frequencies like an airborne kite. It subdivides. There are two now. Then three or four. I lose the ability to count, and I lose the ability to differentiate between them. More crucially, I lose the ability to discern which sounds are coming from Davachi’s instruments and which are the product of acoustic collision and psychoacoustic refraction. At one point I turn my head and the harmonic profile completely changes, introducing new frequencies and muffling others, obliterating any sense of central truth within her music and within my own listening; we are both unmoored and both blissfully unsure. The guitar solos continue to swirl above, still self-indulgent in their acrobatics of pitch even as they assume their place within something unfathomably vaster. Gradually, the piece returns to that one low drone. We descend from the ether of possibility, borne out in colliding overtones and echoes, and gradually return to that irrefutable hum. We’re back in the basement again, and I reach out to clasp the table in front of me. Just to be sure.

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