On the outskirts of late 1970s Olympia, Washington, something stirs, sings, and breathes. Cheri Knight, a music composition student at the Evergreen State College, is developing her practice in a quaint but adequately equipped campus recording studio, amalgamating with the sonic timbre of the surrounding time, space, and place, while devoting to her own inner maxims. At once performative and meditative, electronic and organic, collaborative and self-contained, Cheri’s early compositions are simultaneously complete and sketches of a ceremonial process at play. American Rituals captures the artist’s environmental emergence, unearthing a unique compositional voice and signposting a regional sonic ethos.
The seven works anthologized on American Rituals are foremost an expression of Cheri’s elemental approach to creating, rather than writing, music. Polyvocal chants, spoken-word collages, primal post-punk excursions and hymn-like incantations are bound together by a performative energy; a Cage-ian commitment to the present moment which harbors a meditative interior. The first piece Cheri made at Evergreen manifested when a multi-tracked mic test spontaneously evolved into a vocal ostinato. This experience of layering her own voice allowed Cheri to see images of the sounds she was making “in real time.” In Cheri’s music, language takes on a playful, fluxist, material quality as it is patterned in space.
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