• ARTIST: Sarah Pagé
  • TITLE: Voda
  • CAT#: BKWRD032
  • FORMAT: Digital
  • RELEASE DATE: June 02, 2023

The latest album from Montréal’s exploratory harpist Sarah Pagé is a dynamic journey that drifts the listener through tangled knots and flowing eddies. Comprising nine long-form movements, Voda gathers, grows and throws off tensions, revealing murky depths and phenomenal tenderness. Where her last album, Dose Curves, was rooted firmly in the harp, Voda’s scope is much wider: instruments populating the pieces include bass, cello, violin, koto, electronics, oak branches, water bowls and waterphone.

The genesis of the pieces included on Voda (a Russian word meaning ‘water’) date back to 2014 when Pagé was invited to collaborate on a contemporary dance piece by Russian/Ukranian choreographer Nika Stein. In Voda-Eau-Water, Stein and company explore themes of mortality and vitality as they are typified by humankind’s relationship to water. These conjoined realities are told through symbols drawn from Russian myth and poetry: a peasant woman washing her clothes in a river, an immortal water nymph encountering the concept of death; a dripping wet cave, a spa, a swamp, the abyss. Developing and mounting the piece was an incredibly fruitful experience for Pagé, and so the pandemic found her revisiting the work.

Over the course of a calendar year, Pagé dissected, experimented, scored and expanded the original pieces that accompanied the performance. Working in collaboration with a trusted circle of players and technicians at her home studio outside Morin-Heights (including Stein who contributes the album's lone vocals), bits of myth and bodies of water were transmuted into sound, creating a standalone album of great breadth and intensity. Following instincts that both harkened back to and pushed beyond the original material, Pagé employed an array of techniques to go deeper into the concepts of the work. For instance, several of the bed tracks were processed through a large piece of sheet metal that was mic’d and dipped in and out of a basin of water. And that intensive process created but one subtle colour amidst the vivid soundworld that is Voda.

A central text that inspired the album (and the dance piece that preceded it) is a poem by 19th century Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov entitled ‘The Mermaid’. The English translation by Vladimir Nabokov includes a line that seems to capture the power and dynamism of the music of Voda: “Both making noise and whirling, the river rocked / the clouds reflected in her”.

“graceful”New Sounds, WNYC
“gripping and enveloping”Cast the Dice

“a rich, expansive sound universe”PAN M 360
“full of mystic beauty and gentle, fluttering melodies”Bandcamp
“a hushed, quietly-unfolding mystery”The Autumn Roses

“Her ability to portray beauty and danger in turn and at times together is extraordinary.”A Closer Listen

“a dynamic journey that drifts the listener through tangled knots and flowing eddies”The Attic Mag

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