AMN Reviews: Devin Sarno – Evocation (2021; Bandcamp)

We tend to associate musicians with the context in which we first heard them. For Devin Sarno, that would be his duo recordings with Nels Cline of 20+ years ago. But since then he has been the dedicated experimentalist, releasing a steady stream of albums. Primary known as a bassist, Sarno of late has explored other instruments as well as different production techniques. All of this comes to the fore on his latest effort, Evocation, a set of tracks that are not out of line with his previous work but do take a few unexpected steps.

A solo endeavor, Sarno is credited with sequencer, Moog, guitar, voice, and field recordings. He blends these into an overall sound that could easily be categorized as dark ambient or drone. If you listen carefully enough, you might be able to pull apart some of these constituent elements, but they are mostly overlaid into slow, sweeping tones. Punctuating the above are looped field recordings of insect sounds and occasionally electroacoustic crackling. The overall effect is cinematic – that of alien machinery or a haunted landscape straight out of a horror movie. Recorded last winter during the height of COVID-19 spread in the US, such feel is far from inappropriate.

Nonetheless, Evocation still has the ability to stand alone, outside of time, breaking the aforementioned contextual molds. If you have not any heard any of Sarno’s work yet, or if you are a fan of the ambient / acousmatic mixes that have become prevalent of late, listening to this album is a great way to spend your time as dusk falls.

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