Just because an event is inconspicuous, it does not follow that what’s transpiring is inauspicious: a point handily illustrated by the performance that Sarah Davachi, a Canadian composer and electronic musician, presented in her New York debut at Trans-Pecos on February 28. A Tuesday-night bill shared with significant locals Loren Connors and Luciernaga (a.k.a. Joao M. Da Silva, also proprietor of the indie label Fabrica Records), the concert transpired with relatively little fanfare. Yet for the fortunate few dozen in attendance, the music lived up to Davachi’s sizable, well-earned reputation.
No small feat, given that she was traveling light. On the string of excellent recent albums that have announced her arrival as an artist of substance – Barons Court (Students of Decay; 2015), Qualities of Bodies Permanent (Constellation Tatsu; 2015); Dominions (JAZ Records; 2016), and Vergers (Important; 2016) – Davachi deployed a gearhead’s fantasy arsenal, including vintage synthesizers like the Buchla Music Easel and EMS Synthi 100 and arcane implements like the orchestron and mellotron. (No surprise, given that she’s held more than one stint as instrument-collection guide or curator.)
The resulting music contained echoes of Eliane Radigue, Pauline Oliveros, La Monte Young, Alvin Curran, and other important forebears in drone-based music and extended-duration harmonic studies, along with a fresh take on pacing, concision, and psychological impact. But on her newest album, All My Circles Run (Students of Decay; 2017), Davachi reduces her arsenal to basics; in compositions like “For Strings” and “For Piano,” what you read in the title is more or less what you hear, albeit altered in artful ways with subtle electronics. (You’re unlikely to hear anything more beautiful and haunting than “For Voice” soon.)