two by sarah hennies



I’m a big fan of Sarah Hennies. In my view, she’s one of the most exciting voices working today. It’s been frustrating that I haven’t found the chance to write about her yet. Last night a friend sent me the first video found below, documenting a new site specific work – Embedded Environments, composed for vibraphone and percussion trio and performed at “Silo City” in Buffalo, NY. I thought I’d take advantage of the moment. Hennies is a percussionist and composer from Louisville. She first caught my eye during her years as a member of Austin’s remarkable experiential music scene, but it wasn’t until a CDR issued in 2011 called Objects, that my ears perked. Up until that point, most of the work I’d heard had either been in collaboration with others, or largely focused on use of minimal electronics. Objects was my first encounter with her as a solo percussionist. Over the ensuing years, I became overwhelmed by the growing ambition and character of each subsequent release. Hennies hits a sweet spot in my ear. I love works for solo and ensemble percussion, and have great respect and affection for artists who capitalize on the acoustic character of their instruments (vs processing, effects, etc). She does both with striking risk, and skill. She has remarkable clarity in delivery of concept, yet manages to keep the force of her ideas at bay – allowing a work to transform into that unnameable thing that grips the heart. The sounds Hennies sculpts are active and alive. They serves as a clear reminder of the potential of avant-garde and experimental music, what it proposes, its operation, and the proximity in which it sits. Her connection to the history of this music – particularly to Minimalism, is clear, yet unlike a great many who have followed this path, she has managed to look through esthetics and process, and come out the other side. Her search is for different truths. The work exudes the power found within repetition and tonal constrain – focused on immense depths found within discrete harmonic relationships and rhythms. A while back she left Texas for Upstate NY, beginning what seems to be a remarkable period of productivity. Her name increasingly captures attention, and gives me great hope for the future. The two videos below are only a slim representation of her activity, but definitely worth your time. They’re fantastic. I encourage you to check out her releases on Quakebasket, Astral Spirits, Category of Manifestation, her own label Weighter Recordings, and a number of others.

-Bradford Bailey


Sarah HenniesEmbedded Enviroments (2016)


Sarah HenniesSettle (2014)


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