Review – “Dominions” – Sarah Davachi

reviewed by Jack Derricourt


Dominions. It sounds rigid and lonely — proclaimed authority, pouncing over the land, domination of several areas or regions. It’s ironic then, that the full length album by Vancouver’s Sarah Davachi should bear such a name.

The record is a collection of filmic, ambient pieces, created using a collection of vintage synths and other electronic doo-dads. But warmth permeates it all. If there is a sovereign authority within the discussion of tracks like “feeler” and “ordinal,” then the works themselves must be the counterpoint to such a tyrannical voice; the expression oozing from Davachi’s sonic manipulations is one of freedom, of otherworldly satisfaction and play. I do not see the fixed and the authoritarian present in these tracks — and if so, only in the absence of such ideas.

Maybe I belaboured a point too heavily there. The music itself is wide and wondrous. Morsels of compression produce distance from the music, but just enough to remind listeners that they’re in touch with a document, not a live performance. The pieces vary in tone and general direction, but the approach is always the same: a small cast of characters is introduced, then, slowly, they are allowed to interact. The pieces are longer, over five and a half minutes, allowing them to feel out the relationships present in each arrangement.

While some of the ambient material I’ve come across recently strives to create a certain kind of animal, Davachi’s material feels more natural, more capable of solemn process. The track “ordinal” is easily the centrepiece on this record of elongated moments, and the church-like organ murmuring rotates smoothly alongside more structured natterings of sound. It’s almost like the music is in slow motion, looking at itself in the mirror as it fades away.

Sarah Davachi. It’s a name that sounds like the rain, seen from a long way off, as it breaks onto the water. The music she offers up is much the same, and Dominions lifts daylight in its downpour.

Top Track: “oridnal”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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