Sarah Davachi Fort Massey United Church, Halifax NS, May 29
Published May 30, 2016"Maybe we should clap for the end of the festival?" asked Sarah Davachi at the conclusion of her OBEY Convention-closing set.
The reason for the question mark at the end of Davachi's statement was the sense the audience wasn't quite sure if it was really the end: with the sort of ambient, slow-building instrumental set that the Vancouver- and Montreal-based electronic and electroacoustic music composer had just performed, beginning and endings feel like somewhat nebulous concepts. (The equally atmospheric between-set music OBEY had on the sound system doubly complicated the whole "Is this the show or not?" vibe.)
At its peak, though, there was no mistaking Davachi's noise. Seated on the floor of the Fort Massey Church stage beside its pulpit, with a single lit candle by her side, she used a electronic valve instrument and a variety of pedals to weave together a 40-minute soundscape that oscillated between just a few tones, gradually shifting in texture to gain heft. At its peak, the low end began to compellingly overwhelm the rest of the mix, sending a physical force rumbling through the pews of the church.
Looking back through the small-but-dedicated crowd, I saw a lot of bowed heads, and a number of bodies taking advantage of the church's relatively comfortable pew covers to lie down. A festival like OBEY offers a lot to take in, much of it complicated and at times challenging to the ears. Clearly, many appreciated the opportunity at fest's end to relax and soak in Davachi's slow-burning wall of sound.