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Sarah Hennies, "Everything Else"

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cover imageFollowing up her excellent album Gather & Release from earlier this year on Category of Manifestation, percussionist Sarah Hennies showcases her continually developing skills as both a composer and performer.  Intentionally stretching the definition of what truly constitutes percussion at times, Everything Else is another distinctly different, yet no less amazing entry in her discography.

No Rent Records

The tape is made up of two side-long pieces, both of which differ notably in their composition as well as their construction and instrumentation.  "Falsetto" is the more conventionally percussive of the two works.  The recurring element throughout is a series of ringing bells (intentionally procured second hand and in poor condition) that begin immediately and never seem to stop throughout.  Subtle variations are there to be heard, both from intention and from the simple physicality of the lengthy performance.

Throughout this what sounds like other elements are brought in, either as direct inclusions or psycho-acoustic effects from the repetition.   Bits of what could be digital interference or careful processing are noticeable, as is the more overt transition from the chiming bells into other, less obvious percussive instrumentation.  Popping, crackling sounds and fluttering rhythmic elements all appear, alongside a hypnotic sense of repetition before ending in a less bell-heavy sound at the end.

The second piece, however, is Hennies using a more liberal definition of the word "percussion" by basing the work largely on (from what the photos in the tape would indicate) a rhythm track based around the sound of ripping notebook paper. Compared to the more focused and dense first half, "Everything Else" is looser and less focused.  The approach is more of a free improvisation one, both given its structure and its unique approach to instrumentation.  Beyond the tearing paper rhythm track, what may be a harmonica approximates a dying car horn as other non-specific found sounds are placed in the mix.  It is overall chaotic and difficult sounding, and what almost resembles the sound of a bird call and a typewriter makes an appearance (or instrumentation that sound like such) with some passages resembling more traditional droning, tone-heavy electronic passages.

The title is intrinsic to the underlying concept of this release as well:  using the description of percussion as "everything else" other than what is considered traditional instrumentation, it becomes defined by what it is not, drawing a parallel to queer identities and her own experiences as both a person and as a performer.  While "Everything Else" is the more chaotic of the two, "Falsetto" is similarly unstructured, with Sarah Hennies not only intentionally stretching the definition of percussion, but also composition as well.  There is form within this chaos, however, and what may have began as improvisations end up sounding like more composed endeavors, just solidifying her skill at composition as much as performing.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 20 November 2016 18:42  


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