Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Music Review:
Sarah Hennies
(Ultra Violet Light)

Sarah Hennies is a name I kept seeing a lot around cassettes and just the sort of labels that I tend to frequent.   As it was only a matter of time that I listened to the music to accompany the name, I feel will also only be a matter of time for most everyone else as well.   What Sarah Hennies is doing is something different, without peers really because even when you think of similar artists none of them are quite doing the same thing or in the same way.

"Fleas" has two parts to it- one for each side of the cassette.   It begins with what I think is the tapping on glass with a spoon sound but as I read the website for Ultra Violet Light I realize it is actually bells.   It can also resemble wind chimes though, which is odd because even though I know it is bells (as I read that as fact) I still think in the back of my mind sometimes that I am hearing something else.   That is perhaps the fun of it-- creating your own ideas in your head, the way an elastic band can mimic a guitar string.

A slight sound comes out at one point which could be either a slight breeze or sand shifting somehow.   Static then comes through in radio waves while the bells persist.   Ultimately, this giant sounding bass drum joins up as well and gives off this "Lord of the Flies" vibe.    It takes me back to my original idea that these are glasses and not bells.   The thundering vibrations from a heavy foot could have the fragile drinkware on a table making such noise.   Something about a bull in a China shop but with more precision.   

The static fades out and then so does the rest of the piece.    When the second part starts it begins simply as the steady beat of the bass drum.   It has a rather tribal feel to it, an ancient tribe in some jungle somewhere the likes of which Indiana Jones would stumble upon.   This time, when the bells return I can imagine as being tiny and shaken, like someone bed-stricten would call for help.   However, it also has this distinct quality of the type of bell one would use on their bicycle and perhaps reminds me even more of that.   Still, the higher pitched ringing of the bell, quickly, with the slower, prodding bang of the bass drum is a stellar contrast.  

As the bells cease the drum seems to grow more intense.    It's the type of thing I would be afraid to play loudly in the middle of a jungle for fear of the animals turning on me.   The bells return.    They combine with the drum again until the drum stops and it is just the bells now.   I still hear windchimes over the actual bells, but I feel as if this side has taken on a sort of opposite effect of the previous with the drums and bells switching places in a way.    As it sounded as if it was more than one bell ringing before, it eventually grows quieter, softer to just a single bell.   

While the bell can ring wildly as if it is to summon something or someone (I sometimes think of it as the old fashioned dinner bell) by the end it is at the point of simply one, small bell which you might not be able to hear without headphones on.   It also could just as easily serve as an example or possible source of my tinnitus.    Though there are seemingly a few other sounds, you have to imagine that the majority of what you hear on here is made by bells and a bass drum.   The fact that such music can be generated without sounding minimal is a testament to Sarah Hennies and makes me wonder what else she can do with other instruments. 

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