Devin Sarno – “Evocation” Album Review (ambient/electronic)

Evocation, an appropriate title for the new 7-track release by Los Angeles ambient/sound artist Devin Sarno.  We feel inclined to include the “sound artist” moniker as he steps a little to the left of what is a traditional ambient artist. 

There’s a little more to Evocation than ambient sound planes driving in different directions at different speeds with different degrees of thickness.  Devin Sarno is not just interested in “taking the listener on a journey” or “letting them float with the sound.”  No, there is a little bit more of a substantial world here, even if that substance is done so in a minimal manner with sound. 

And speaking of “worlds,” the track, “The World Behind Me” is a good place to start. Underneath a rising and fading plane of mid/high-toned, ambient sound are what sound like some sparsely-placed found sounds and subdued vocal samples.  This lends a bit more to the effect of a world forgotten or “behind me.”  Disturbing and nostalgic but oddly gives a feeling of ending too soon at just under three and a half minutes.  It’s like the feeling of being comfortable in discomfort. 

While we’re not going to go through every single track, let me stop and say for a moment that the very nature of this album containing tracks that are relatively short in length is nice.  For new listeners this element and the diversity of some of the tracks could be seen somewhat as a “sampler.”  But then it would be really nice to see in the future how Devin Sarno could take different things that he touches on herein and expand upon them.

Another thing that I think he does pretty successfully is create a vacuous, cavernous environment with tracks like the closer, “Borrowing Dreams.”  Here we have multiple levels of thickness and drone like planes that appear almost like a slow-rolling dream-like tide with “dreamlike” voices in the distance.

I feel like this release is really effective in its length for new listeners as well as in its fair diversity of sonic exploration.  I’m definitely looking forward to hearing where the artist takes us next.

From the press release:

“Evocation” is the latest solo release from Los Angeles-based Composer Devin Sarno. For the past three decades, Sarno has been exploring the outer edges of drone and ambient sound creation. While known primarily as a solo bassist, some of his most recent recordings have utilized a broader sonic palette through the use of sequencers, field recordings, guitar, voice and post sound editing/manipulation. Recorded at the end of 2020, several months into a spiraling Global Pandemic, “Evocation” is a reflection on time and memories lost…blanketed in yearning and helplessness.

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