Throughout this potent collaboration between Sarah Davachi and Sean McCann, we are waiting for the moment to come. Davachi and McCann are masters of restraint in their solo practice, but with their combined prowess on Mother of Pearl, anticipation, and contemplation become an art form. Hushed whispers shuffle through the room, moving quietly to avoid the specks of dust suspended in the air.
Viola notes scrape across the floor, trying to take flight in the languid stillness on the opening piece, “LA in the Rain.” There’s a feeling out period where probing aural tendrils move toward the center in unison, tentatively meeting to create a delicate yet eloquent connection. Resonant drones grow from this center, Davachi’s viola playing relaxed and dusted with gold while untroubled piano explorations loop in the background. The interplay between the viola, piano, and the empty spaces between are intimate recollections beautifully distilled next to silence, covered and protected by a layer of tiny particles.
It’s a tenuous peace when “Keep Outside the Night” groans and creaks under the oppressive weight of midnight. Glassine drones shimmer like hidden stars long forgotten to history but alive and shining in our dreams. A shared desire for the skies to clear permeates the need to find ourselves harmonizing in the quiet of the present while each string of notes sings a somber lament. The combination of the soft, resplendent arrangement and the organic thrush of manipulated tape creates a ghost world of echoes where it’s possible to float weightless at night.
So many passages on Mother of Pearl feel like reading someone’s personal diary. Bells intermingling with lush piano chords beneath a heavy blanket of hiss on centerpiece, “Lamplighter,” give way to extended notes pulled, almost imperceptibly, to their breaking point. Tension laces through each stolid space, the murmurs building to a stifled crescendo where the pinnacle hopefully lies. It’s for naught, though, and the moment still wanders, out there among the leaden trees and singing bells.
Davachi and McCann combine on Mother of Pearl in an improbable manner, letting walls decay into ruins and standing unguarded among the debris. Embracing the tranquility of waiting, of realizing that even if the moment never arrives, the time spent together, the things we create in collaboration – that’s where the golden hour lives. Mother of Pearl is a personal memento to hold us steady until the next connection blooms.